SAN FRANCISCO — Sep 14, 2018, 8:01 PM ET

San Francisco statue that some call racist is removed

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A 19th century statue near San Francisco's City Hall that some said is racist and demeaning to indigenous people was removed early Friday.

A group of Native Americans chanted, beat drums and burned sage as the workers used a crane to take down the "Early Days" statue depicting a Native American at the feet of a Spanish cowboy and a Catholic missionary. It was part of group of bronze statues near City Hall that depict the founding of California.

Native American activists tried to have the statue removed for decades. They renewed efforts last year after clashes broke out across the U.S. over Confederate monuments.

Cities nationwide have tried to remove Confederate monuments following the racially motivated massacre of nine people at a black church in South Carolina and a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The San Francisco Board of Appeals voted unanimously Wednesday for the removal of the statue, which was part of the Pioneer Monument first erected in 1894.

While American Indians have pushed for the statue's removal for decades, it has not attracted the same furor as Confederate monuments elsewhere. In a 1996 compromise, a plaque was installed underneath the sculpture explaining that the monument "represents a conventional attitude of the 19th century."

"I think we're witnessing a moment in history where, commendably, San Francisco officials are doing the right thing to help rectify the mistreatment of indigenous people," Janeen Antoine, who is of Lakota heritage, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're very happy this is finally happening after decades of work and struggle from the native community."

The statue will be restored and put in storage until officials decide what to do with it, said San Francisco's Arts Commission spokeswoman Kate Patterson.

The cost of removing the sculpture, which required a sculpture conservation specialist and a crane, fully restoring it and paying for storage will be $120,000, Patterson said.

Several entities including a California museum have expressed interest in displaying it, but Patterson said she couldn't discuss who they are because the commission is not yet considering the sculpture's next home.

"Our priority is to restore it," Patterson said. "We're not entertaining the offers at this moment so, I won't discuss that right now."

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  • Nick

    I think it is not worth restoring just break it up and throw it away.

  • empirewacksback

    Restore it? I doubt it. That was just an excuse to keep it out of site.

  • Planet Earth

    120K to remove? Should've spent that money to commission another statue honoring the natives of the region. Ultimately all this art tells our collective story as a nation.

  • VFORVENDETTA

    This is utterly stupid, this country has become much like the movie idiocracy.

  • L. Meyer

    What if we kept the artwork and changed the plaque letting everyone know why this was made at the time, and what it now represents. I think the revised statutes would be good history lessons. ??

  • travis Dejesus

    If we wish to punish retroactively everything or everyone involved in wrongdoing, then our history will be a never ending cycle of blame. We will be stuck in the past and doomed to never reach the future. Simply acknowledge what has happened and move on. If we want to closely examine symbols then perhaps the U.S. flag needs to be redesigned as it has flown over every massacre ever carried out against Native Americans in this county's history.

  • CaptnBlynd

    Lets take down all statues and burn all written histories. We don't need to understand what happened before or understand our past.
    "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Those who destroy their history cannot learn from it.

  • F D

    "I think we're witnessing a moment in history where, commendably, San Francisco officials are doing the right thing to help rectify the mistreatment of indigenous people,"

    Kind of like a when in movie the action of destroying an object releases the tormented souls. Give me a break.

  • snake

    Perhaps the sculpture can be displayed in a museum somewhere in the Bay Area.

  • brickmette

    Whites have always depicted other racial/ethnic groups as being subservient to whites.
    Things change.

  • Bongs&Thongs

    well as long as the world largest gay pride flag is still up im good

  • pete mancini

    The Christian's could slaughter the indigenous people, And steal their land. As long as they prayed to Jesus on Sunday they could do it all again on Monday.

  • Christopher Gilbert

    Sucks, but it sucks worse what we did. Since our ancestors never had to pay, we will. Karma always finds you. Face the music, or pass it along to the next generation like those before us.