Initial estimate: Springfield MLK statue repairs could cost $10,000

Flowers were placed on the pedestal where a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. once stood.
Flowers were placed on the pedestal where a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. once stood.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 2:59 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Restoration of the damaged Martin Luther King Jr. statue near the Illinois Capitol could cost nearly $10,000.

The Illinois Secretary of State Police received this initial estimate from a sculpting studio in New Carlisle, Indiana. Sculpture Sources President Barry Tinsley sent a proposal for repairs to the toppled statue on Sept. 19.

Sangamon County State’s Attorney Daniel Wright filed the memo as additional discovery in the court case against Fernando Garcia on Monday.

Tinsley wrote that he would need to establish a new anchoring system for the statue depending on the solution best suited to the conditions. He also plans to repair weld the shoe soles and leg cracks using silicone bronze. Tinsley said he would apply patina chemicals for a touch-up of the weld joints and address scratches on the arms and shoulder. Sculpture Sources would also wash down, clean, and wax the statue before returning it to Springfield for installation.

The memo to Jesse White’s Department of Physical Services said Tinsley may have to drill new holes in the granite base and have stainless steel pins set into the new or old holes. He noted that the state would be responsible for providing the lifting equipment for putting the statue back on the pedestal.

Secretary of State Police Director Elmer Garza said the first estimate of $9,853 does not include the removal of the damaged statue and fees for reinstalling the artwork after restoration is finished.

The statue of Martin Luther King Jr that stood at Freedom Corner in Springfield, Illinois.
The statue of Martin Luther King Jr that stood at Freedom Corner in Springfield, Illinois.(Mike Miletich)

Garcia is charged with one count of felony criminal damage to state government property. The 24-year-old man is being held on a $50,000 bond for allegedly toppling the 300-pound Martin Luther King Jr. statue around 11 p.m. on Sep. 11. Secretary of State Police later found the statue on the ground around 3:15 a.m. on Sept. 12.

Wright submitted a flash drive with eight files of digital evidence of the incident from the Springfield Police Department traffic cameras and Illinois Supreme Court videos on Sept. 26. The video also helped identify Garcia. Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker explained that the video files will not be released to the press while prosecutors use them as evidence for the court case.

Druker said the office doesn’t know of a motive behind the vandalism. The statue at Freedom Corner has come under scrutiny over the past few years for not properly depicting MLK. Many lawmakers and advocates want a new statue made with a more prominent role near the statehouse.

White has been very active in conversations with the House Statue and Monument Review Task Force. The 86-year-old announced in May of 2021 that he would personally put $5,000 towards a fund investing in a new MLK statue. White met King while playing basketball at Alabama State University. White also went to Rev. King’s church and participated in the Montgomery bus boycott with Rosa Parks.

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