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City officials in Jackson County, Missouri, will remove statues of Jackson outside courthouses in Independence and Kansas City after the Jackson County Legislature voted 7-1 to remove the statues. The vote came after the county legislature had previously decided to let residents vote on the fate of the statues in a ballot initiative in November 2020.
At the ballot initiative, voters in the county voted to keep the statues, with over 72% of county residents voting against a proposal to remove the statues of Jackson, who was president from 1829-1837.
“I remain committed in my belief that the statues of a man who owned slaves, caused thousands of Native Americans to die and never stepped foot in our County should be removed from our public facilities,” said County Executive Frank White after the November vote.
The statues of Jackson, who is credited with orchestrating the American victory at the Battle of New Orleans against the British during the War of 1812, were in front of the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City and the Historic Truman Courthouse in Independence.
According to the Jackson County Historical Society, the county was organized on December 15, 1826 and named for Jackson, who had been a U.S. senator for Tennessee and was nationally known thanks to the Battle of New Orleans.
In 2021, the county added a plaque to the statue that referenced Martin Luther King Jr.
“This statue of Jackson reminds us we are on a path that, in the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr., bends towards justice. In turn, we must acknowledge past injustices to help us create a greater nation built upon humane policies to light our way and the way of humanity everywhere,” the plaque read.
Last month, Legislator Manny Abarca introduced a resolution taking aim at Jackson over his ties to slavery and the Trail of Tears.
“It is in the moral interest of Jackson County to immediately create separation from these moments in our nation’s history through the removal of statues or monuments associated with them so as to not accidentally bestow honor on individuals who were engaged in the genocide of indigenous groups or proponents of slavery,” the resolution said.
The statues have been a target of vandalism in recent years, with some labeling the former president as a racist. After the county legislature’s vote, they will be removed and stored by the city.