Activists in Arcata, California, are looking to topple a statue in the city’s central square, but this time it’s not going to be of a Confederate general or anyone associated with the Civil War; they’re toppling a statue of President William McKinley, for his crimes, they say, against Native peoples at home and abroad.
“Put a rope around its neck and pull it down,” one activist shouted at a recent rally demanding the statute’s removal, according to the LA Times. Others suggested McKinley should go because of his support for “settler colonialism” that “savaged, raped and killed.”
Local Native American tribes and other assorted activists targeted the statue after a Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally to save a Confederate statue turned violent. Arcata officials claim the incident forced the city to look inward at its sins against the Native population, and to consider removing the statue as a protest against what they believe is “racism” on the part of President Donald Trump.
Arcata residents say they believe there’s no marked difference between McKinley, who presided over America’s westward expansion, and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“Is there a difference between honoring McKinley and Robert E. Lee?” Arcata’s mayor recently asked media. “They both represent historical pain.”
Arcata’s council hopes to “inspire” other cities across the country to remove statues of McKinley. Other cities in California have removed statues of Christopher Columbus for similar reasons. Activists have also taken it upon themselves to vandalize and destroy statues of St. Junipero Serra, a Catholic priest who led missions in southern California.