One of the most liberal cities in America is at it again, this time instead of being the first to ban the sale of genetically modified foods or the first to elect a majority Green party city council, Arcata is set to be the first to remove a statue of a U.S. president. The city is set to pull down an 8 1/2-foot statue of William McKinley, a president who has been accused of ordering the slaughter of Native Americans at the turn of the last century.
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The statue has been present at the central square for over 100 years, but protesters like Chris Peters shouted, "Put a rope around its neck and pull it down." Peters is the head of Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous People and he says McKinley was a proponent of "settler colonialism" that "saved, raped and killed."
The last several months have seen dozens of Confederate statues pulled down in the U.S. and now they are after statues that offend native Americans. Tribal activists are mobilizing their efforts in the West and California is leading the charge. The state is home to more than 100 federally recognized tribes.
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In March, the San Jose City Council voted to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from City Hall and San Francisco officials say they plan to remove a monument downtown that depicts a defeated Native American at the feet of a Spanish missionary. "Is there a difference between honoring McKinley and Robert E. Lee?" the mayor of Arcata Sofia Pereira said. "They both represent historical pain."
The statue of McKinley was crafted by a local resident of Arcata in 1906 and donated it to the city to honor "the first modern president." Ted Hernandez, a member of the Wiyot Tribe, said "The Native people here have avoided that square for years. Why do we have this man standing in this square where they used to sell our children?"
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