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What’s next for monuments and memorials

News Article
Portland City Council has allocated $50,000 for a community-based process moving forward.
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In Portland and across the country, communities have been reassessing monuments criticized as symbols of historical oppression. What started as a movement to remove Confederate symbols in the American South has expanded more recently to a reckoning over European colonization and the oppression of Black and Indigenous people – including the removal of sculptures of Harvey Scott, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Rough Rider Theodore Roosevelt and “Promised Land” here in Portland in 2020.

Image of an empty plinth in the South Park Blocks
The plinth where Teddy Roosevelt: Rough Rider had been, in the South Park Blocks, remains vacant since the bronze sculpture was toppled in the summer of 2020.

In the City’s supplemental budget approved last month, Portland City Council allocated $50,000 for a community-based process that will help City Council decide what to do with these five statues. The funds will be used to hire a consultant to design and conduct a public process, with extensive engagement in communities that are underrepresented in the City’s public art collection to ensure that all voices are heard.

The project, led by the Office of Commissioner Carmen Rubio, will help City Council make decisions about the monuments currently in question, and also inform new public policies and procedures for assessing monuments and memorials in the future. Stakeholder bureaus like Portland Parks & Recreation, as well as the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), will be actively involved in this work throughout next spring and summer.

If you have comments, questions, ideas or concerns about these monuments or anything related to the City’s public art collection in the meantime, please contact cityartsprogram@portlandoregon.gov. We also recommend the following articles and resources: