Press "Enter" to skip to content

McKinley statue is no more

The Arcata City Council votes to remove the McKinley statue on Feb 23. amid strong support from the community.

Footage by Stephanie McGeary and Garrett Goodnight. Edited by Stephanie McGeary.

“Hey! Ho! McKinley’s got to go!” Humboldt State students shouted as they marched to the Arcata Plaza on Feb. 23. Supporters stood up for their support of the removal of the McKinley statue and Jacoby Building plaque. A crowd of people then crammed into City Hall to participate in the city council meeting where the council voted to remove the statue.

“It’s like pulling the thorn out of a festering sore,” 64-year-old activist Fhyre Phoenix said.

Phoenix was among the many who came to show his support for the removal of the statue, which he has been protesting for several years. Since December, Phoenix spent 26 days on the plaza demonstrating against the statue.

“My goal was to start a conversation with 100 people every day I was there,” Phoenix said. “I found the response overwhelmingly positive. I had 15 positive responses for every one negative.”

A crowd of people making their way to Arcata Plaza on Feb. 21. to participate in the decision to remove the McKinley statue. Photo by Patrick Maravelias.

Among others supporters were the people of the Weott, Yurok and Pomo tribes, the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Earth First, Humboldt Unitarian Universalists Fellowship and HSU students.

Elijah Lechman, 25, is the board of directors representative of Associated Students. Lechman says the Historic Justice Alliance, a group which includes Seventh Generation, HSU’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, or MECha, and AS Lobby Corps, worked hard to get the word out about this pivotal moment. Lechman says it doesn’t matter if there are plans to replace the statue with something else. The bottom line is it needs to be removed.

”It’s distressing people having it there and it would be hurting no one to have nothing there,” Lechman said.

Chris Peters, president and CEO of Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, spoke during the rally on the plaza of his concern that the city would try to delay this issue again.

“They raise issues of cost and environmental impact reports,” Peters said. “We need to make a firm stand that we are adamant.”

Cost issues were presented during the council meeting. City manager, Karen Diemer, estimated the cost to remove the statue at roughly $65,000.

The decision to change the Jacoby Building plaque, however, seemed easy to agree on. Owner of Jacoby Storehouse Bill Chino agreed to help cover costs for that project.

The main issue of the meeting was voting on the removal of the statue. Although member Paul Pitino voiced clear support, other council members were on the fence about the issue. There was the discussion of placing the issue on a ballot, to have the public vote in November. Mayor Sofia Pereira did not support this option.

“I think we lose the nuance of people’s perspective on it,” Pareira said. “As a council, we should give our best effort to resolve it at this level.”

In the end, the city council did resolve the issue. In a vote of four to one, the council voted to remove the McKinley statue from the Arcata Plaza.

The estimated $65,000 cost still presents an issue, but Phoenix offered to help run the campaign to earn the funds. The project is currently in the early stages.

Phoenix said the community support will make this an achievable task.

“People who want to help move forward can donate to the campaign,” Phoenix said. “This is for people who didn’t make it to the rally or to the meeting to show support. Here’s your chance to make a mark.”

People interested in contributing can inquire by emailing fhyrephoenix@gmail.com.

This story has been changed from its original version on Feb. 27 at 4:22 p.m.

 

3 Comments

  1. Not Not February 24, 2018

    Nice explanation of why people didn’t like it

  2. Ty Ty March 1, 2018

    This statue is talked about as if it is a celebration of everything that has ever been wrong with this country. You hold President McKinley responsible for an expansion attitude that he did not design nor live to see the end of. The United States and its leaders during this time did only what they thought was best for this country and its future. I am grateful for those people because I love this country in spite of its flaws and past mistakes. You act like costing the city sixty five thousand dollars to tear down a simple statue is a victory. Meanwhile, that very same plaza is full of people with no where else to go. Many of whom are addicted to hard core drugs and/or suffering from mental illness but instead of focusing on solving these and similar real issues that effect this community and its members every day, you choose to focus on this.
    President McKinley fought for the Union in the Civil War as an enlisted soldier and spent the rest of his life in public service for this Country. He won his presidency during a deep economic depression and immediately had a positive impact of growth mostly due to the backing of the gold standard and American Market favoring tariffs. When Cuban natives fought back against their Spanish colonizers who were locking them up into interment camps and letting them starve to death he lead America to a quick and low casualty war to force Spain to grant Cuba its independence. He was a loyal and dedicated president until his second term was cut short after being assassinated by anarchist Leon Czlogosz.
    This is not simply a “statue” this is a monument to a Union Solider, a patriot, a leader, and a President of the United States who was murdered while in office. To tear down his memory and disregard his accomplishments in the name of “progress” is an absolute shame and disgrace.

  3. Bambi Bambi March 7, 2018

    Don’t matter which side you were on during the Civil War. The North and South had imperialist policies supporting the genocide of indigenous peoples.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: