The bronze sculpture of Theodore Roosevelt was vandalized with paint and was being guarded by cops for over a week after a group called “Decolonize This Place” had threatened to remove it.
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A controversial equestrian statue of former president Theodore Roosevelt at the American Museum of Natural History in New York became the latest casualty of the movement against racial bias in the United States. The museum decided to remove the bronze statue which “explicitly depicted Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior.”
The nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer have targeted statues and symbols with racial overtones, including Confederacy memorablia. The Roosevelt statue was also vandalized with paint, West Side Rug reported. A group named “Decolonize This Place” had threatened to remove the statue of the 26th president flanked by an African American and a Native American. It was being guarded by the police for a week.
“Over the last few weeks, our museum community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd,” museum president Ellen Futter told the New York Times. “We have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism. Simply put, the time has come to move it.”
Mayor Bill De Blasio said the city supported the museum’s request. “It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”
The great-grandson of Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt IV, told the Times that he was in favor of the decision. “The world does not need statues, relics of another age, that reflect neither the values of the person they intend to honor nor the values of equality and justice,” he told the publication. “The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. It is time to move the statue and move forward.”
Roosevelt’s views on race and his role in the Spanish-American war have long been a subject of criticism. During a 2016 protest, activists demanded the museum remove the 10-foot tall 1939 statue over its white supremacist implications.
The New York Times reported the museum was only taking issue with the statue and not with Roosevelt. The fate of the statue after its removal remains undetermined.
Several Confederate statues have been toppled or ordered removed across the United States, including one of president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, whose statue was pulled down by protesters in Richmond, Virginia Photo: AFP / Parker Michels-Boyce