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Board OKs Restoring Wisconsin Capitol Statues, Launching Money Drive

A statue of Civil War hero Hans Christian Heg is seen on March 11, 2020, outside the Wisconsin state Capitol, in Madison, Wis. The Wisconsin abolitionist's descendants are imploring state officials to repair and reinstall the statue.

The board that approves repairs at the state Capitol overwhelmingly agreed Monday to restore by spring two statues that protesters ripped down last month during a wild night of protests against racist police.

The state Capitol and Executive Residence Board voted unanimously to repair statues of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a Wisconsin abolitionist killed in combat during the Civil War, and a woman embodying the state's Forward motto.

"We've got to fix this stuff," Republican state Sen. Luther Olsen, a member of the board, said. "It's just a dirty rotten shame this stuff had to be defaced and damaged but that's the world we're living in so let's get it fixed."

Photos the state Department of Administration provided to the board show protesters broke off a leg and tore off the head off the 9-foot-6-inch tall Heg statue. The head is still missing, said Paula Veltum, DOA's deputy facilities administrator. The agency plans to build a new head by recasting the head of a similar Heg statue in the town of Norway. The 7-foot Forward statue, meanwhile, was scratched and dented. One of its fingers was broken off.

DOA is still compiling a cost estimate, Veltum told the board. The Wisconsin Historical Society plans to start a fundraising drive to raise $50,000 to offset the insurance deductible, she said. The board signed off on that effort unanimously as well.