PRO AND CON These are the unedited rebuttals to the ballot arguments supporting and opposing Measure M, “An Initiative to Prohibit the Modification and/or Destruction of the President William McKinley Statue and Its Base and/or the Relocation from Its Historic Place in the Center of the Arcata Plaza.” A”yes” vote on Measure M overrides the City Council’s Feb. 21 decision to remove the statue; a “no” vote upholds the council’s statue removal decision. Read the text of the initiative as well as ballot arguments for and against (to which these rebuttals apply) at cityofarcata.org/306/Elections.
Rebuttal Argument in Favor of Measure M
A shrill group has viciously attacked one of Arcata’s crown jewels: our plaza statue of President William McKinley. They hope to rewrite history by smearing a much-loved abolitionist president as “racist.”
Public meetings degenerated into tirades, insults and screaming, Dissenting voices were silenced by threats and name-calling. The July 18th Mad River Union noted this group’s high pressure attempt to force the Arcata City Council to override the voters and break the law.
But the thing they feared most will now happen: the fate of our 100 year old plaza statue will be decided by Arcata voters.
Whether or not the opposition actually lives in Arcata they love spending our tax dollars—while lying to voters about actual costs. Don’t believe wild claims that our McKinley statue can be removed for “only” $65,000. Charlottesville Va, was staggered by an estimate of more than $350,000 to move one statue. New Orleans moved four statues based on a “group estimate” of slightly over $100,000. The real cost? $2,100,000.00, $525,000 for each statue!
Arcata taxpayers would be stuck with that bill. To balance our budget, a $525,000 project would require either cutting services—terminating approximately eight city employees (eight fewer police officers or the entire recreation department). That or raise taxes.
Arcata’s Tom Damman put it well: “I will not vote to remove the statue of a hero who fought to end slavery.”
Vote YES on Measure M!
/s/ Gordon Inkeles
/s/ Robert J. “Bob” Ornelas
/s/ Dan Hauser
/s/ Michael Winkler
Rebuttal Argument Against Measure M
Removing the McKinley statue from the plaza is not erasing history, it is viewing history through the lens of time and represents an evolution of our understanding of how and to whom we pay homage. Regardless of individual opinions about McKinley as a president, he does not define nor symbolize who we are as a community and had no local connections to this area.
McKinley’s actions devastated the lives, cultures, and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific through invasion and violence, which included massacres, water torture, concentration camps and orders by top military officials to kill anyone over the age of 10. It was those same actions and ideals, ruthlessly embodied in the settlers before and after McKinley’s time, that brought similar devastation to Indigenous Peoples of this area.
Furthermore, prominent Black citizens of McKinley’s time, including some who would later found the NAACP, decried his “incomprehensible silence” in the face of widespread lynching and race riots. Today, our local NAACP stands in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples regarding the request to remove the McKinley statue.
Removal of the statue is estimated to cost $65,000, which represents less than 0.2% of the city’s $40 million 2017/2018 adopted budget.
The Wiyot Tribe and many Native community members from throughout the region and considerable numbers of people from diverse backgrounds have publicly expressed support for the relocation of the statue. Join us in recognizing and honoring history and humanity. Vote NO on Measure M!
/s/ Paul J. Pitino, Arcata City Councilmember
/s/ Nathaniel A. McGuigan, Co-Chair, M.E.Ch.A. de Humboldt State University Chapter
/s/ Renée Saucedo, Organizer, Centro del Pueblo
/s/ Sharrone Blanck, President, NAACP Eureka Branch
/s/ Robert J. Hepburn, Coordinating Committee Member, Veterans for Peace, Inc., Chapter 56