BENNINGTON — Bennington Police are investigating vandalism that occurred at the Bennington Museum on Saturday night and was discovered Sunday morning by a museum employee.
According to police, a large banner was erected between two light poles at the entrance to the museum’s courtyard. Written on the banner was “LAND BACK.” In addition, the Abraham Lincoln statue in the courtyard had been vandalized. The statue had reddish spray paint covering the statue’s face and hands. In the center of the statue’s chest was the number, “38.” It is estimated to cost several thousand dollars to repair the statue and remove the paint, police said.
It is believed that “38” and “LAND BACK” are in reference to the Dakota 38, when 38 Dakota men were hanged under the order of President Abraham Lincoln, according to police. The hangings and convictions of the Dakota 38 resulted from the aftermath of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 in southwest Minnesota.
A military commission sentenced 303 Sioux fighters to be executed. Lincoln reviewed the cases and decided there was evidence that 39 Sioux were guilty of murder or rape during the uprising and ordered their execution. The remaining 264 sentences were commuted. One of those sentenced to be executed received a reprieve.
The Bennington Museum describes itself as a museum of art, history and innovation. The museum is located at 75 Main St.
This vandalism incident is under investigation. Anyone with information should contact Officer Amanda Knox at 802-442-1030 or provide information through the website at benningtonpolice.com.