Monumental shift: Portland statues may get new life in Sandy

Oregon

Sandy Mayor offers to restore Portland's toppled statues

Demonstrators pulled down a statue of George Washington in Northeast Portland, June 18, 2020. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” … but can the saying apply to historical monuments? Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam announced he hopes to give the discarded statues of Portland a new life in Sandy. 

Mayor Pulliam held a press conference at Meinig Memorial Park Wednesday morning launching a new effort on behalf of the Sandy City Council to reinstall the statues of three former presidents torn down by protesters in Portland last year.

After a year of racial justice protests resulted in the vandalism and removal of many historical Portland monuments, Mayor Pulliam’s announcement comes after a recent update to the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) policy, which could make the removal of the statues permanent.

“When we heard last week that the city of Portland is considering not putting the statues back up we decided we’re tired of the embarrassment,” Mayor Pulliam told KOIN 6 News. “It’s time for communities like Sandy to step up and say ‘not everyone feels this way!’” 

PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 11: Protesters walk past a toppled statue of President Theadore Rosevelt during an Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage protest on October 11, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

During his press conference Mayor Pulliam acknowledged that many of the men memorialized in the statues have made mistakes. “We should celebrate the things that should be celebrated, and learn from the things that shouldn’t. A statue can do both.”

Mayor Pulliam told KOIN 6 News the men deserved to be honored for their contributions despite their controversial past. “These are American treasures, they’re heroes that we should recognize and really teach our future generations about both the positive and negative attributes.”

The statue restoration proposal coincides with the recent vandalism of the York bust at Mt. Tabor Park. According to Director of Portland Parks and Recreation Adena Long, the memorial of a Black man was consequently removed Wednesday morning following numerous attacks racist attacks.

KOIN 6 News asked Mayor Pulliam if the City of Sandy felt as strongly about the defacing of the York statue to which he responded … “We would love to have the York statue in Sandy as well, I believe! It’s something that should be talked about at our next city council meeting along with these other statues.”

The York statue in Portland’s Mt. Tabor Park was toppled and damaged July 28, 2021. (Credit: Portland Parks and Recreation)

The Sandy City Council will be taking action next Monday, formally offering the City of Portland to repair, install, and maintain the statues of Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt which have remained in storage since their removal last year. The council will partner with local non-profits to fund the project.

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