A lawyer for the two people arrested on charges of possession of a stolen Confederate monument that was removed from an Alabama cemetery said the pair had nothing to do with the theft of the artifact, calling it a misunderstanding.
The chair-shaped monument was recovered in New Orleans after it was restored. moved of a cemetery in Selma, Alabama. Later, someone sent an e-mail signed “White Lies Matter” claiming responsibility, and then sent fake photos pretending that the chair had been turned into a bathroom.
New Orleans police said last week that Jason Warnick and Kathryn Diionno were arrested on charges of stealing property in their possession. Authorities said they are also looking for another man in connection with the case.
“This is just a big mistake. It really is, ”said attorney Michael Kennedy, who represents Warnick. “They had no role in stealing the chair. They have no ties to White Lies Matter. “
The strange saga began on March 20, when a representative of the United Daughters of the Confederation reported to the police that the “Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair” had disappeared from the Alabama cemetery. The chair has no direct connection to Davis, the president of the Confederacy, but it is a monument to him that sits with other Confederate monuments in a private section of the cemetery.
Someone sent an e-mail signed “White Lies Matter” to the media previously claiming responsibility and saying that the chair would be returned only if the United Daughters of the Confederation agreed to display a banner at their headquarters in Virginia with a quote of an activist in the Black Liberation Army. “Jefferson Davis no longer needs this. He’s been dead for a long time, ”said the e-mail. The local representative of the United Daughters of the Confederation told the police, for the initial report of theft, that the chair was worth $ 500,000, although it was not known how the value was determined.
A later e-mail included photos of someone wearing Confederate clothing posing on a chair, which looked like the one missing, with a cut hole. And then, finally, an email said that the chair was fake and that the real chair was being returned unscathed.
The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported that investigators received a tip that the monument was being kept inside a deposit at a tattoo shop. The police obtained a search warrant and did not find it. But the surveillance video showed a masked woman with a unique tattoo on her right forearm helping five people get the huge monument out of the store and place it on the back of a U-Haul van, police said. Police said they determined that Diionno had the same tattoo – of a candlestick – on his right forearm.
Michael Jackson, Selma’s district attorney, said he anticipates that Warnick and Diionno will face additional charges for the chair theft. Kennedy said it would be a mistake because the two had nothing to do with the theft.
“If this is how they are going, they are very wrong,” said Kennedy.
A person responding to the “White Lies Matter” speech last week said that he or she could not reveal why the chair was taken to New Orleans, but said the police were told they could retrieve it at a given intersection. . The person wrote that those involved in the theft wanted to make an observation about residual racism and used what the writer called a bit of “comedy” to get attention.
“The chair is back now. But the racial caste system is also alive and thriving, ”wrote the person.