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Protesters Tear Down Pioneer Statues on UO Campus

Two statues that symbolize Oregon’s historyand legacy of taking of indigenous land were torn down Saturday evening on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. This happened after a teach-in at Deady Hall.

Activists used ropes to pull the Pioneer Statue from the pedestal where he stood in a central location on campus since 1919

An unidentified group then proceeded to chip and drill at the statue’s face and then using the ropes, dragged him across 13th avenue and up the steps of Johnson Hall, the U of O’s Administration Building.

The group then marched to the Pioneer Mother statue, and proceeded to pull her down. The statues have been the subject of protest as they symbolize the legacy of white settlers killing the indigenous people of the west and taking their land. Last year, student groups urged the University to remove the statues, saying their presence was a constant reminder of racism and hate. 

The UO released a statement later Saturday night on the statues.

“These are obviously turbulent times. While we support peaceful protest and vigorous expression of ideas, we do not condone acts of vandalism. Our country, state and campus are coming to terms with historic and pervasive racism that we must address, but it is unfortunate that someone chose to deface and tear down these statues. Decisions about the future of the Pioneer statues and other monuments should be made by the campus community through an inclusive and deliberative process, not a unilateral act of destruction. Just this week, President Michael Schill recommended that the Board of Trustees dename Deady Hall and announced to the University Senate that he was asking a campus committee to look at whether statues or monuments on campus, including two Pioneer statues, should be removed. The university will put the statues in safe storage and allow that process to play out."

Copyright 2020 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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