All Politics is Local

Google lists Confederate park as ‘public bathroom’

Anyone who researches Confederate monuments will find a range of descriptions. One of them, at least locally, is “public bathroom.”

As of Thursday afternoon, those who Googled “Jefferson Davis Park” near Ridgefield would have noticed that Google Maps (which often appears to the right of the computer screen after entering a search item) lists it as a public bathroom. Or, if one searched for public bathrooms in Clark County, the park’s location appeared.

The monument has often attracted controversy as well as vandalism. It has come under scrutiny again recently amid protests against systemic racism.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans Pacific NW Division, which owns the property where the monument is located, has added security measures, including a host of cameras.

It’s not clear who wrote the description or when they added it. But according to Google Maps’ support website, anyone with a Google account can suggest edits to places.

The description was news to SVC Pacific NW Commander Rick Leaumont, who was asked about it Thursday. He said that he hadn’t heard of anyone using the monument as a restroom.

Leaumont, who laughed upon hearing the description, said the organization would find a way to change it.

The monument is easily visible from Interstate 5. But Leaumont noted that those seeking a respite during a lengthy road trip would need to take a minutes-long detour to reach it.

“It could be a way of, I guess, saying something ugly about it, to go to the park and urinate on it,” Leaumont said. “But it seems like our detractors would not want to draw people to it.”

Jack Heffernan

Jack Heffernan

Jack Heffernan is a breaking news reporter and covers Clark County government for The Columbian.