It’s McKinley’s big day – and night

Mad River Union

ARCATA – The statue of President William McKinley is facing its most credible challenge to date, with statue removal advocates holding marches, a rally and then heading over to City Hall for tonight's 6 p.m. City Council meeting. Also up for removal and replacement is the plaque designating the Jacoby Building a historic landmark.

The city and other groups have held several meetings centered on Plaza issues in recent months, and those will culminate in a complete review of suggestions and options at  tonight's meeting.

The council meeting packet includes a wealth of information about the statue and Plaza, view it here.

A student-led group, the Historic Justice Alliance plans a series of activities, beginning with a rally on the Humboldt State Quad at 4:20 p.m., a march to the Plaza starting at 4:40 p.m., a 5 p.m. rally and a 5:45 p.m. march to City Hall. See their Facebook page here.

A related Facebook post.

An alliance of indigenous peoples, the Pacific Alliance for Indigenous and Environmental Action (PAIEA), plans a walk and rally starting at 3:30 p.m. PAIEA members and children will walk a ceremonial redwood log symbolizing the plight of the planet from Arcata’s Sunset Ave. and Northtown, joining a rally on the Plaza at 5:30 p.m, then heading to City Hall.

A few notes from this week's edition of the Mad River Union:

ARCATA CITY COUNCIL The long-awaited City Council meeting on the Plaza takes place tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. at Arcata City Hall, 736 F St. Other than the Consent Calendar, the only agenda item involves discussion of the President McKinley Statue and Jacoby’s Storehouse Historic Designation Plaque.

THURSDAY NIGHT TALK Join Mad River Union Editor-At-Large Kevin L. Hoover on KHSU 90.5 FM Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. for Thursday Night Talk. The show will feature representatives of Humboldt State’s “We Are Your Community” initiative and a recap of the previous night’s City Council meeting about the Plaza, McKinley and the Jacoby’s Storehouse plaque. Guests may include some of those offering opinions at the council meeting.

Below, some unedited submissions from activists:

New Alliance Calls for Removal of McKinley Statue at Arcata City Council

Arcata, CA— At the Arcata City Council meeting on Wed., Feb. 21, the Pacific Alliance for Indigenous and Environmental Action (PAIEA) affiliates will add their voices to those calling for the removal of the statue of President McKinley from the Arcata Plaza, as well as the plaque mentioning “Indian troubles”.

Priscilla Hunter, Coyote Valley Tribal representative and Chair of the Sinkyone Wilderness Council of Ten Nations and a founding member of PAIEA declared, “The statue and plaque symbolize the history of oppression, suffering and near annihilation of Native Americans by white settlers, and should not be displayed or celebrated”. (see attached letters to the Arcata City Council)

PAIEA members from as far away as Pt. Arena, Willits and Petrolia will urge removal of the statue and plaque, demonstrating that objection to the McKinley statue is widespread beyond the city limits. Statements and letters from those unable to attend will be read or entered into the record.

In a statement to Arcata City Council members, Willits Mayor Madge Strong, speaking as an individual, wrote: “I don’t believe it is appropriate to put this question to a popular vote of the town, just as it would not be appropriate for a predominantly white southern town to vote on segregation. Human rights take precedence over majority rule. This is a matter of respecting those who, very justifiably, take offense at idolizing oppressors of the past.”

A walk and rally will precede the City Council meeting, starting at 3:30 p.m. PAIEA members and children will walk a ceremonial redwood log symbolizing the plight of the planet from Arcata’s Sunset Ave. and North Town, joining a rally calling for the statue’s removal, on the Plaza at 5:30 pm, before proceeding to the City Council chambers a few blocks away.

Twenty-five people from organizations and Tribes spanning three generations and several North Coast counties, met in Arcata on Feb. 11 for the second annual meeting of the newly-formed bioregional organization, the Pacific Alliance for Indigenous and Environmental Action, to share information about local and global environmental issues and cultural concerns and to find ways to support each other. The newly adopted mission statement is as follows:

“The Pacific Alliance of Indigenous and Environmental Action (PAIEA) is an alliance of groups and individuals dedicated to protect, preserve and restore the traditional cultures and ecosystems of the Pacific Coast.  In this united front we pledge to honor, respect and learn from each other and fully integrate into our actions the protection of Mother Earth.  We will accomplish this by using negotiation, litigation, community organizing, media, public outreach and non-violent direct action.”

The group has already started putting words into action with their presence at the City Council meeting, and the Log Walk, also a PAIEA project.

Originating from a dream, the Log Walk manifested as a Walk to Heal the Forest. The Log has already been carried from southern Mendocino County, where it highlighted the problem of herbicide use on forestland, through Richardson Grove, still threatened by Caltrans’ highway widening plans, and floated down the Eel to the Mattole River, where saving old growth on Humboldt County Redwood Co. land is paramount, and now up to Arcata.

The Alliance also backs a still-pending historic lawsuit by the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and the Round Valley Indian Tribes against Caltrans for desecration of cultural sites and withholding artifacts during construction of the Willits Bypass, and supports the relocation of the lighthouse in Trinidad away from the Tsurai village site.


Febbruary 20th 2018

Dear Members of the City Council of Arcata:

The Pacific Alliance of Indigenous and Environmental Action is an alliance of groups and individuals dedicated to protecting, preserving and restoring the traditional cultures and ecosystems of the Pacific Coast.  Our Mother Earth is currently menaced by the forces of climate violence, destruction of forests, soils, rivers, oceans, and extinction of both species and cultures, more than any time in our history. In her defense therefore, our intention is to unite  groups along the  entire coast.

Our objection to the statue of William McKinley, which dominates the central Plaza of Arcata, is

Central to this mission. It is true that humans tend to develop a sentimentality about objects and conditions they have grown up with or lived with, or simply ignore the shadows of malign identities in their communities.

However, such obliviousness  and dulling  of  perception is  characteristic of the malaise that infects our entire country. We can make no judgment abut William McKinley as a man, but it is undeniable that he aided in the destruction of precious and irreplaceable indigenous cultures, and that he waged devastating wars over much of the earth to acquire Empire. The values upon which this man acted in the powerful role of President are more dangerous today than ever before, and to flaunt them over the heads over people in the central Plaza of Arcata mocks us and clouds our moral integrity.

Once again the voices of your constituencies, coupled with the desires of many people who regard Arcata as part of their neighborhood, and the appeals of  all defenders of Mother Earth offer you the opportunity to remove this statue.

--Statement from the Pacific Alliance for Indigenous and Environmental Action



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