The city of Arcata, California removed the 8 1/2 foot tall bronze statue of assassinated Republican President William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States. The statue had stood in the town’s main square for 113 years.
On Sept. 6, 1901, an anarchist from Michigan gunned down the popular president at the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, he died eight days later, and Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th President of the United States.
McKinley’s expansionist policies were widely viewed as racist toward indigenous people. During his presidential tenure at the turn of the century, McKinley annexed tribal lands in the western U.S. and Hawaii in the name of Manifest Destiny.
In 2015, over Ohio’s objections, President Barack Obama renamed Mount McKinley in Alaska — the highest peak in North America at 20,310 feet — to Denali, its Athabascan name (which is what locals had called it anyway), Breitbart reported.
A public vote on a measure to protect the state was voted down in Nov. 2018, allowing the city council to move forward with removal plans. The city confirmed that the statue is now gone via press release Thursday. Social media images captured the removal process.
“City staff continued with the statue removal process when a break in the rain occurred with a long enough window for it to be transported safely and at a time when Plaza businesses, parking and traffic would be least impacted,” the city wrote.
City officials say the statue of the assassinated president was brought to Arcata after it was created in San Francisco and nearly ruined in the 1906 earthquake and fire. The community of McKinleyville, just north of Arcata, was named in honor of the former president.
Many locals reacting on the Lost Coast Outpost Facebook page cheered the removal, but others felt the change was no cause for celebration.
“It’s sad to see history removed, even bad history has a good story to tell,” wrote one commenter.
LIVE | MCKINLEY STATUE REMOVAL: Say so long!
Posted by North Coast News TV on Thursday, February 28, 2019
There has been a nationwide push for the removal of Confederate statues since a mass shooting by a neo-Nazi who murdered nine worshippers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black congregation in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. However, McKinley fought on the Union side, not for the Confederacy.
In his much-maligned — and mischaracterized — press conference after the Charlottesville, Virginia, riots in 2017, which were triggered by a controversy over a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
President Donald Trump warned that other statues of non-Confederate presidents would be the next to follow:
“Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson?” he said.