Protesters knock down Roosevelt, Lincoln statues in Portland
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Protesters overturned statues of former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in Portland, Oregon on Sunday evening in a declaration of "anger" against Columbus Day.
The protest organizers called the event "Indigenous Peoples' Wrath Day" in response to the federal holiday on Monday, which was named after the 15th century Italian explorer Christopher Columbus.
The group threw chains around Roosevelt's statue, officially titled "Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Rider". They threw red paint on the memorial and started using a blowtorch on the statue's base, news outlets reported.
The crowd tore the statue down just before 9 p.m. The group later turned their attention to Lincoln's statue and pulled it down about eight minutes later.
Historians said Roosevelt expressed his hostility to Native Americans by once saying, "I don't go so far as to believe that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are ..."
The protesters sprayed "Dakota 38" on the base of Lincoln's statue, referring to the 38 Dakota men who Lincoln allegedly hanged after a violent conflict with white settlers in Minnesota.
After the statues were overturned, the crowd began smashing windows of the Oregon Historical Society and later moved to the Portland State University campus public safety office.
The police later declared the event a riot and ordered the group to disperse. Police said anyone involved in "criminal behavior, including vandalism" must be arrested. It is unclear whether any arrests were made.
The memorials are the latest statues to be put down in a wave of distant memorials and protests sparked by the death of George Floyd on May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis.
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