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Portland monuments toppled or removed

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A photo showing the five toppled Portland monuments in storage. Each statue has a scaffolding around them to support them.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black American man was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s murder resulted in global protests that focused on systemic racism, colonization, and injustices against Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. As the social justice uprising spread across the United States, many monuments were seen as symbols of oppression and became a focal point for protests. The reevaluation of historical monuments in Portland has led to the storage of several monuments, including the statues of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington, and figures like Harvey Scott—symbols that have long stood in the public view but now prompt the City to question what is honored and memorialized.

Each of these monuments represents a complex tapestry of history, embodying both achievements and controversies. George Washington, the founder of our country and a central figure in American history, is now viewed in light of his role as a slave owner. His statue, once standing outside the German American Society, was toppled during the protests, spray-painted with phrases like “You’re on Native land” and “BLM.” This reflects a critical reevaluation of his legacy in the context of systemic racism and police violence. Similarly, Roosevelt's significant contributions to conservation and international diplomacy are juxtaposed against his imperialist views and belief in racial hierarchies. The participation of Harvey Scott in the Yakima War, violating the treaty rights of the Yakama, Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla tribes, highlights the multifaceted and often contentious legacies that we are now reexamining.

The story of the York Explorer also emerges as a poignant example of the City's complex relationship with its history. The guerrilla art installation of a bust of York, the only Black member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, in Mount Tabor Park became a focal point for discussions on representation and racial justice. This unauthorized bust, replacing the statue of Harvey Scott, brought to light York's significant, yet often unrecognized, contributions to the expedition and the injustices he faced. The bust's subsequent vandalism and removal underscored the ongoing tensions and the need for a broader narrative in our public spaces.

Which monuments were toppled or removed?

The following five monuments were toppled or removed in 2020 and 2021. They are all currently in storage. You can click on each hyperlink below to read more information about each monument. 

  1. Abraham Lincoln; 1927; granite, bronze. Located in South Park Blocks, Portland.
  2. George Washington; 1926; granite, bronze. Located at the Intersection of Northeast 57th Avenue & Sandy Boulevard, outside the German American Society, Portland.
  3. Harvey Scott; 1933; bronze on a basalt pedestal. Located on the summit of Mount Tabor in Mt. Tabor Park.
  4. Promised Land; 1993; bronze on granite plinth. Located at the Center of Chapman Square in downtown, directly west of the Justice Center, Portland.
  5. Theodore Roosevelt; Rough Rider; 1922; granite, bronze. Located at the South Park Blocks between Madison and Jefferson streets, Portland.
  6. York (Bust); 2021; Wood and urethane sculpture, bronze paint. Temporarily replaced Harvey Scott on the summit of Mount Tabor in Mt. Tabor Park.