City of Portland Will Remove Downtown Elk Statue After Protesters Burned It

The Regional Arts & Culture Council says the statue is at risk of toppling.

Parts of the fence that surrounded the Justice Center were removed, and used to decorate the Elk statue on SW Main Street in June. (Alex Wittwer)

The Portland Police Bureau announced on Thursday that the city will take down the 120-year-old Thompson Elk statue between Lownsdale and Chapman squares, across the street from the Multnomah County Justice Center, because protesters damaged its structure by setting it on fire.

On July 1, protesters lit fires at the base of the statue, police say. The Regional Arts & Culture Council determined the damage to the base so severe that the statue might topple over and injure someone.

"Engaging in criminal activity including vandalism and property damage is not peaceful demonstration," Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement. "We ask for the public's help in identifying and sharing information about those responsible so they can be held accountable."

The bureau said the public restrooms in Lownsdale and Chapman squares near the elk statue were also damaged severely during protests.

The elk statue was erected in 1900 in honor of David P. Thompson, who served as mayor of Portland from 1881 to 1885, according to The Oregonian. It has regularly been at the center of protests—people climbed atop the animal to kiss during the last night of Occupy Portland protests, and protesters draped portions of a fence from its antlers last month.

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