Rabbit Statue At Center of Flag Day Controversy
"Bunnygate" has the Town of Dedham divided over public land use and honoring veterans.
A five-foot fiberglass rabbit statue on the Oakdale Common is causing some controvery in town this week. It's not the rabbit itself; it's more the location where it is placed, on a common which is also home to a memorial for residents who have served in the armed forces. Local veterans are calling for the statue to be removed, or at the very least, covered for tonight's Flag Day parade.
The rabbit, one of more than a dozen, is part of the Dedham Public Art Project unveiled earlier this year, which culminated this spring with these artist-painted fiberglass rabbit sculptures placed across town in high-visibiilty locations. Each rabbit is painted by a juried selection of local artists, each sponsored by local businesses, individuals and organizations. At the conclusion of the public display, the completed sculptures will be auctioned off to support the proposed Mother Brook Arts & Community Center being considered as a new use for the current Avery Elementary School.
The rabbit amid the controversy is one dedicated to veterans, but the location where it was placed is the real issue among residents and local veterans.
“We do not believe that this rabbit is appropriate to be on the same lot dedicated to people who gave their lives in the ultimate sacrifice," said Norfolk County Commissioner and Dedham veteran Fran O’Brien in a phone interview Wedesday night. "We want to cover the rabbit with bunting so that we can celebrate our veterans.”
While O'Brien said the Arts Council was told by the Park and Recreation department to touch base with both the town's veterans agent and the Combined Veterans Council, both were in the dark.
"We knew nothing about this until we got a phone call about it. I don’t think the Arts Council has set out to hurt our veterans, but I think they have made a mistake in judgment and we want to correct it,” O’Brien said.
According to an article on Boston.com, the group's decision to place the sculpture in the common was a good-hearted and went through the proper channels.
But Dedham veterans want the rabbit statue covered over for tonight’s gun salute at the Common. If the rabbit remains uncovered, O’Brien told the Boston Globe that the salute wouldn’t happen.