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The activist art collective INDECLINE has since taken responsibility after a series of effigies, representing clowns dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia, appeared overnight in Bryan Park in Richmond, Virginia. Underneath the white KKK robes, the effigies were found to be fully dressed in clown costumes. While the park was initially closed, it was reopened to the public by 10:40 a.m. on Thursday.

Founded in 2001, the activist art collective, was also famously behind the naked statues of Donald Trump which popped up in various cities across the U.S. last year, including Las Vegas and New York. The group has also been responsible for various other controversial art installations in the past.

INDECLINE takes responsibility for Bryan Park display

When taking responsibility for the effigies, INDECLINE said in a Thursday statement that the action is in protest against the currently ongoing uprising of white nationalists in the United States. The group said they chose Richmond due to its legacy as being the Confederacy capital. Bryan Park was chosen as it was historically where Gabriel Prosser launched the 1800 slave rebellion.

A placard had been hung around the neck of one of the clown effigies reading, “If attacked by a mob of clowns, go for the juggler” – INDECLINE” (included as a second image top of article).

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Park closed over clown effigies in KKK costumes

According to a report by the Richmond-Times Dispatch, police initially closed Bryan Park by 8 a.m. Thursday, cordoning off the immediate surroundings with crime scene tape. While police were considering the park to be a crime scene, the art activists said in their statement that the action had been in planning since spring 2016.

Recent marches and protests countrywide, including the brutal violence of the recent Charlottesville protest, led them to carry out their plan. The display comes under a month after white supremacists took to the streets of Charlottesville, protesting the planned removal of Confederate memorials. As noted by the Newburgh Gazette, that event turned to violence after the “Unite the Right” marches met peaceful counter-protesters and led to the death of Heather Heyer and injury of several other counter-protesters.

City leaders condemn INDECLINE action

The Richmond-Times Dispatch reports that leaders in the city condemned the action by INDECLINE. James Minor of the NAACP, said that looking at the display, whether it is considered to be art or not, lynching is not something that should be depicted. He said the NAACP does not support groups promoting violence. The president of Richmond Crusade for Voters, an African-American voter advocacy group, said the art activists do not understand the pain of black people in the past and currently, including hangings.

Readers can watch INDECLINE as they prepared the clown effigies for the display in Bryan Park in their YouTube video below.