Arcata to Canton: The statue’s all yours

Mad River Union

ARCATA – The Arcata City Council Wednesday night certified the EIR for the McKinley statue removal project. The council also directed city staff to work with Canton, Ohio to relocate the statue there. Canton was where young William McKinley initially practiced law.

The McKinley statue is on its way out. Union graphic

The City of Canton has organized a coalition of local public and private institutions to fund the government-to-government transfer, restore the statue and create a permanent site for sculptor Haig Patigian's 1906 work. Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei promised it would be displayed “in a manner befitting the beautiful statue.”

Testimony from the public was mostly against keeping the statue, or any traces of what was described as a symbol of imperialism and genocide, in Arcata or in Wiyot territory. Several speakers wanted it to be thrown into the ocean, or to simply decompose. But most said Canton was the sensible choice for a new location.

On a motion by Councilmember Paul Pitino, the council unanimously approved relocation of the statue to Canton. City Manager Karen Diemer asked the public for a couple of weeks to make arrangements. She said city workers will be out examining the statue in days to come, with removal plans to be formed up and reported back to the council.

Pitino wanted a date certain to set a takedown ceremony, but Councilmember Sofia Pereira and Mayor Brett Watson agreed that the project must be approached with safety over haste.

Once undertaken though, according to the project's environmental document: “The City Engineer estimates that the removal of the statue, including staging and transportation to the storage facility, will take less than two business days (approximately 16 hours)."

The council's historic initial decision to remove the statue was taken 364 days previous. Removal was overwhelmingly affirmed by Arcata voters in November with the defeat of Measure M, which would have overturned the council's decision.

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