Built in 19th century San Fransisco, the Early Days statue depicts a Native American man at the feet of a Spanish cowboy and Catholic missionary. In recent months it has become a center of controversy in San Fransisco, with some saying that the statue is degrading to Native Americans. In the wake of the Confederate statues being taking down in in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer, the San Fransisco Arts Commission had voted to take it down and place the statue into storage.
Residents of San Francisco were calling the statue a representation of genocide. Commission spokeswoman Kate Patterson said about the statue, “as a city, we had an opportunity to correct a gross misrepresentation of history and to honor the wishes of the first people of this land who have advocated for the sculpture’s removal for decades.” Board of Appeals member Rick Swig did say that, “yes, its despicable. Yes, it’s horrible…but taking it away suppresses thought.” While Swig does agree that it is a depiction of a horrible time in California’s history, to take it down and place it in storage would be just suppressing the history of the state and of the people who were affected.
The Arts Commission Board decided to remove the statue after almost three decades of debating on it in favor of building a new main library for the city in March of 2018. With the total cost of the removal, storage, and placement of a plaque to be between $160,000 to $200,000. On April 18th , the San Francisco Board of Apples unanimously voted to overturn the decision made by the Arts Commission. This is in the wake of lawyer Steve Schmid’s appeal to the Arts Commission, arguing the the sculpture is a piece of art regardless of a persons opinion on it. Saying the the First Amendment mandates that it be protected as a freedom of speech.
While the decision may prove to be unpopular with those who fought for it to be taken down, it does serve to prove that while it was decisions on statues can be overturned if support behind it is present. But the same can be said of the opposite, if their was support to keep it, it can be overturned in favor of taking it down.
Growing up in a city surrounded my monuments and landmarks, I don’t see them as being related to genocide or as being tasteless. Most of the people I know feel the same way about them, not seeing them as a reminder of racial tensions and actions to a group of people, but see them as a reminder of the past and how far we have come from then.
I am a History major with the Teachers Certification, I also have an Associates in Criminal Justice and do plan to finish a Bachelors as well as continuing my education with plans to study Anthropology to eventually get a PhD. in both Anthropology and History. I am also a salesman and businessman, with plans to open up my first fully successful business in late Spring.