Yesterday, a giant bronze statue of the late crack-smoking mayor of Washington DC, Marion Barry, was unveiled at a celebration in the nation’s capital. Meanwhile, the northern California town of Arcata’s city council has voted to take down its statue of President William McKinley. From North Coast Journal:
POSTED BY KIMBERLY WEAR FEB 22, 2018 AT 2:50 PM
Arcata Councilmember Paul Pitino didn’t waste any time after listening to nearly three hours of public comment on whether the statue of President William McKinley and an offensive plaque should come down from the Plaza.
“I’d like to get right into it and say I’d like to make a motion to remove the statue and store it somewhere … and remove the plaque,” he said immediately after the matter landed back before the council.
Councilmember Susan Ornelas piped in with a quick second. And, just like that, the stage was set.
While a bit more discussion would follow, and the removal of the statue and the plaque would ultimately be separated into two motions, the council summarily decided to dramatically change the city’s center on Wednesday.
After more than 100 years of holding court, the controversial bronze work that survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to be dedicated to Arcata by a local farmer amid a Fourth of July celebration is coming down.
For many speakers, the statue of the nation’s 25th president known for pushing American interventionism is an overtly racist image that has no place in Arcata. Others, however, see a historic figure and a piece of the city’s past that should be preserved.
The sole dissenting vote on McKinley’s fate was Councilmember Michael Winkler, who said he believed the issue should go before city residents as a ballot measure, one of several options that staff had proposed. …
The vote to remove a 1963 plaque denoting the Jacoby Building’s status as a California Registered Historic Landmark, which includes the affronting wording that “it served periodically as a refuge in time of Indian troubles,” was unanimous.
… After the votes were made, the standing-room-only crowd that spilled out of the council chambers broke out in loud applause with many calling out, “thank you” from the audience.
But there were a few moments of tension during the meeting, with some audience members heckling a speaker who voiced the minority view that McKinley should be celebrated as a Civil War veteran who dedicated his life to public service before he was felled by an assassin’s bullet. …
Still undecided is what will ultimately happen to McKinley’s statue, which was the first major work by renown Armenian sculptor Haig Patigian, although Councilmember Brett Watson suggested it “should leave the city.”
In contrast to McKinley, Marion Barry is Who We Are: