The York bust anonymously installed atop Mount Tabor was toppled and partly shattered early this morning.
Sometime during the night of July 27 or early morning of July 28, the bust was torn from its pedestal. Photos sent to WW this morning show the face’s nose torn off, and much of its forehead shattered. A historical plaque on the pedestal describing York’s role in the Lewis & Clark expedition was also torn apart, the photos show.
When a WW reporter visited the scene at 8 am, the bust had been removed and the site cleaned. A spokesman for Portland Parks & Recreation tells WW that city workers removed the damaged sculpture from the park.
“Park visitor stopped to notify a PPR maintenance worker this morning at 6:51,” says parks bureau spokesman Mark Ross. “We removed it at 7:15.”
A passerby saw the statue intact on the evening of July 27, so the damage occurred overnight.
The bust, made of urethane painted bronze, depicts the only Black member of the Corps of Discovery. In February, a sculptor who hasn’t revealed their identity installed the bust on the pedestal that once held a statue of Harvey Scott, an 1870s editor-in-chief of The Oregonian who opposed women’s suffrage. Protesters toppled the Scott statue last year.
Since its installation, the York bust has become an object of awe—and repeated vandalism.
On at least three occasions, people defaced the pedestal with graffiti. On one occasion, the messages demanded the return of land to Native American tribes. Then, last month, someone scrawled a white supremacist symbol.
In a third case, in early June, a woman was filmed defacing the pedestal with purple spray paint while shouting that it was not right to replace the image of a white man with that of a Black man. Police charged her with several misdemeanors.
It was not immediately clear this morning what ideology, if any, motivated last night’s destruction.
Portland Parks and Recreation director Adena Long told WW that the bust’s appearance in February was a “happy surprise” for the bureau.
“Unfortunately, the numerous racist responses to the memorial of a Black man forced to participate in the Corps of Discovery Expedition have not been a surprise,” Long said. “The latest act of vandalism is incredibly disappointing for me, and I’m sure the majority of Portlanders will miss seeing York at the top of Mount Tabor. Parks staff will inspect the installment after this latest incident to see if it can be salvaged.“