Gardner pushes for marker removal

Published on Thu, Mar 14, 2002 by Meg Olson

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Gardner pushes for marker removal

By Meg Olson

Senator Georgia Gardner is quietly working to move the controversial Jefferson Davis marker beside the Peace Arch to the Semiahmoo museum and out of the public eye.

“This has all been blown way out of proportion and now somehow it’s Blaine’s fault,” Gardner said. “My focus is just on getting Blaine out of a negative light. You should read my mail, saying we have a bunch of racists in Blaine and things like that.” Gardner is proposing the marker be moved to the Semiahmoo museum. “In the museum everyone can see the historical oddity but it’s not in the park and we don’t have the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons) marching on us,” she said.

On Monday the NAACP announced a letter-writing and petition campaign to have the marker removed, and suggested a protest could be planned in Peace Arch State Park.

The Jefferson Davis marker was erected beside the old highway 99 next to the Peace Arch in 1940 as part of a cross-country drive by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to immortalize Davis in the nation’s highways. The highway later got another name in 1950, as the Blue Star Memorial Highway commemorating the nation’s armed forces, but the marker erected beside the Peace Arch is no longer in place. Highway 99 was slowly replaced by I-5 and only a small chunk remains between Everett and Tacoma. A bill sponsored by Snohomish representative Hans Dunshee to rename highway 99 after black civil war soldier William P. Stewart instead of confederate president Jefferson Davis died in the hands of the state Senate transportation committee last week. The bill passed the state House of Representatives unanimously, but the Senate didn’t begin to review it until the deadline for bills to make it out of committee had passed.

The marker sits on state parks land but is in the department of highways right-of-way, so there was initialty confusion about whose jurisdiction the marker was in. Parks department representative Virginia Painter said her department had taken the lead and was reviewing what to do with the marker. “We’re not getting it out of there right away,” she said. “What we’re doing is discussing what we will do with it.”

Painter said what was not an option was just getting rid of the marker. “It’s our charge top preserve history, to put it in context” she said. “Whatever the solution is it will involve some
interpretation.”

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