They say you can always tell the quality of a person’s character by the monuments they topple over.
Actually, nobody says that, but maybe we should start, because there seems to be a glaring difference between which historical figure’s bust or monument gets the Humpty Dumpty treatment depending on who’s doing the toppling.
When Black people or anti-racism protesters vandalize or knock over a statue it’s always somebody like Robert E. Lee, Christopher Columbus or Andrew Jackson—slavers, genociders, colonizers and overall evil people who did evil things while on evil missions of conquest.
Meanwhile, white people and other racists go after Arthur Ashe, Frederick Douglass, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor—people whose statue needed to come down or be vandalized because *checks notes* they’re Black.
And for some odd reason, racists in Portland, Ore., appear to have a special white supremacist hard-on for a little-known historical figure named York, the only Black person who traveled across North America on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
According to the Oregonian, last week, workers for Portland Parks & Recreation removed from the ground a bust of York that had been toppled over and broken along with a bronze plaque honoring him. The bust was placed anonymously on a pedestal where a bust of Harvey Scott—who the Oregonian described as “a well-known conservative and longtime editor of The Oregonian who opposed women’s suffrage”—once stood before it was torn down last year.
In June, The Root reported the same York statue, which sat in the city’s Mt. Tabor Park, was vandalized by a KK-Karen who proudly admitted on camera she did it because she has always “been prejudice against Black and Hispanic people.” Apparently, that was just one of three times the statue had been vandalized this summer.
From the Oregonian:
The bust was spray-painted in early June with the words, “Love, not Hate.” The purple paint was later removed.
In late June, a photo of the statue showed the plaque marked with a red logo resembling a symbol used by Patriot Front, a white supremacist group. White paint had also been sprayed on the plaque pedestal and over a portion of the statue. The plaque described him as, “The first African American to cross North America and reach the Pacific Coast.”
“The York bust appeared in Mt. Tabor Park in February as a happy surprise to Portland Parks & Recreation,” Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long said in a statement. “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. 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 Mt. Tabor. Parks staff will inspect the installment after this latest incident to see if it can be salvaged.”
Portland officials said the city was discussing removing the bust anyway but hadn’t set a timeline to do it. Jeff Hawthorne, Portland’s arts program manager, said it would’ve likely had to be removed eventually because the materials it was made of wouldn’t withstand the weather forever. He also said there were discussions about replacing it with a more durable bronze bust of York, but there are currently no concrete plans in place for that either.
“We have continued to talk about the future of that artwork and pedestal with the artist who created it, as well as other artists in the community,” Hawthorne told the Oregonian. “The Regional Arts & Culture Council has connected with the artist as they are stewards of the public arts across the city.”
So basically, whoever committed the offense against York in the name of the All Statues Matter or All Statues Splatter movement got to throw their little salty-ass temper tantrum and topple over a bust that was likely going to be removed anyway. Unfortunately for whoever is responsible, the hatred in their heart will remain much more difficult to remove.