On Sunday, June 14, a group of protesters toppled the statue of Thomas Jefferson outside Jefferson High School (Murmurs, WW, June 17, 2020). Community members have long discussed removing the Jefferson statue and renaming the school, arguing it's not appropriate to have a monument to a slave owner in a historically Black neighborhood. A few days later, on the eve of Juneteenth, protesters set fire to a statue of George Washington on Northeast Sandy Boulevard, then pulled the monument off its pedestal. Both statues have now been placed in storage. Here's what our readers had to say:
Susan P via wweek.com: "About time all these were taken down. No reason to celebrate slave owners anymore. Proud of my Portland for doing this."
Brandon Hurless via Facebook: "Monuments are like plastic bags: They never should have existed, but now we can't get rid of them."
Nader Absood via Facebook: "A wise man once said, 'My estimation is that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of a son of a bitch or another.'"
@jamesblyin via Twitter: "Saw this coming. They need to rename the school next."
Wufpdx15, via wweek.com: "Dude, you realize that Jefferson High School was never renamed, despite being in one of Portland's more Black neighborhoods, due to many African Americans in that community relating to the high school from their own history in Portland. Also the Washington statue was on private property, one owned by a nonprofit that frequently gives back to the community. Perhaps they should have started with a letter first."
Shane Rubio via Facebook: "If you do not own it and it's not on your property then it is vandalism. It doesn't matter what your thoughts are, because you do not speak for everyone."
Warren Harding via Facebook: "Sometimes vandalism is rad. Nobody cried vandalism when the statues of Stalin or Saddam came down."
Nick Ychenko via Facebook: "Apart from the fundamental righteousness of tearing racist statues down, can we at least agree that they constitute awful public art? Like I've never heard somebody walk by one of those things and say, 'Hey, isn't that beautiful,' or 'Wow, that is really brightening my day.' Those statues are literally the opposite of art—all they do is memorialize unjust and illegitimate power."
nrbqfan via wweek.com: "Pulling down a statue of a slave holder so that African American kids don't have to look at it every day and be reminded of their status in this country is not hate. You may disagree with it, and there are reasonable people on both sides of the debate about pulling down statues of Jefferson. But it's not hate."
@NeutronLizard via Twitter: "I think I'm OK with this. Fuck all statues."