Last October, Portland’s Antifa announced what they called an Indigenous People’s Day of Rage (in place of Columbus Day). The day of rage was intended from the start to include “direct action” which is anarchist code for smashing things. The group was true to its word. They tore down statues of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, smashed the entrance to the Oregon Historical Society, and damaged a bunch of retail outlets. They even smashed windows at a Portland State University police office. Police declared it a riot.
But for all the destruction, there was very little video of the mob in action. That’s because the organizers were very explicit about everyone turning off their phones and not recording the acts of vandalism.
People in the crowd were repeatedly admonished not to film. Passersby who happened upon the group were ordered by demonstrators to stop filming or delete photographs, including an apartment resident who had lasers shined at his eyes and a liquid thrown in his face as he appeared to shoot video of the scene from his terrace.
In fact, one of the “reporters” who often covers this stuff said he didn’t even try to take any video that night:
Someone who calls himself a journalist is seriously asking this. https://t.co/itLH3IOsz6
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) October 12, 2020
Actual journalists did show up the next morning and capture the mess, including the image of Abraham Lincoln face down and vandalized (see the report below). A statue of George Washington had been pulled down earlier.
Yesterday, Portland’s Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) decided that the statues of Washington, Roosevelt and Lincoln would not be returned to the places where they stood before:
“The recommendation not to return statues to their previous location does not mean that works will be permanently removed from the City of Portland’s public collection,” RACC spokesperson Heather Nelson Kent said in a statement. “The statues include: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt: Rough Rider, Harvey Scott, and Promised Land. City officials have decided that Elk will return to downtown Portland.”
The vote by the Regional Arts & Culture Council board is the latest step in a process that began earlier this summer. That’s when arts officials adopted a policy that says public artworks can be removed if the “subject or impact of an artwork is significantly at odds with values of antiracism, equity and inclusion.”…
The fate of the statues could prove a measurement of how swiftly Portland public opinion has shifted on which historical figures should be celebrated. Both presidents are towering figures in American history. But Roosevelt espoused eugenics and led imperialist wars. And Lincoln, while chiefly remembered for the Emancipation Proclamation, held racist views of Black people and presided over the removal of Native Americans from their land.
So, yes, Roosevelt, Washington and Lincoln are now all considered too racist to be celebrated in public, at least in Portland. RACC hasn’t decided what will happen to the statues yet. They’ve been in storage for nearly a year. For now the city still owns them but the group could decide to sell them off to fund new projects “representing more diverse cultural identities and histories.”
Here’s a local news report from the Day of Rage last October.