Letters to the Editor, Sept. 13, 2018

No on Measure M, really

It might be helpful to respond to TorgToon’s piece regarding accuracy of information or how much common ground we who want something else in the center of our Plaza vs those who want the McKinley statue to stay there forever. So here’s a few responses I’d like to make of the purported truths and statements made by those who are opposed to the City Council’s vote to remove the statue.

Measure M supporters: “The citizens of President McKinley’s time, honored Civil War veterans as their “Greatest Generation” who saved our country and freed black citizens from slavery.”* “McKinley was popular and well respected”*


“...and you have seen our sufferings, witnessed from your high place our awful wrongs and miseries, and yet you have at no time and on no occasion opened your lips in our behalf. Why? We ask.... And is there no help in the federal arm for us, or even one word of audible pity, protest and remonstrance in your own breast, Mr. President. (Open Letter to President McKinley by Colored People Of Massachusetts, I.D. Barnett, October 3, 1899)

Measure M supporters: “Arcata estimates total cost to remove the statue at $65,000 ...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).”*


There is not one staff or administrator in employed in the City of Arcata who validates these ludicrous figures. As for the $65,000 estimate, an outside benefactor has offered to fund the removal and a local group has already committed to raising the funds.

Measure M supporters: “A shrill group has viciously attacked one of Arcata’s crown jewels…”*


What does this have to do with a rationale for keeping the statue where it is? FYI, this exact description has been used to denigrate and silence women for centuries when they do speak out against injustice.

Measure M supporters: “They hope to rewrite history by smearing a much-loved abolitionist president as “racist.”*


Removing the statue from the Plaza is not erasing history, it is viewing history through the lens of time and represents an evolution of our understanding 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 connection to this area. The statue, i.e., that version of history will exist wherever it is moved.

Measure M supporter: “I miss my relationship with Mr. McKinley... when I first came here in 1979... I could sit at the steps and drink a Guinness and have long conversations with him.” (B. Ornelas, City Council meeting, Spring 2018)


How about a bar for your nostalgia, Bob?

*Argument, rebuttal and other measure documents can be found at cityofarcata.org, City Clerk, Elections.

Pamela Brown

Factually, no on M

Bob Holcomb has asked for dialogue on the issue of President McKinley’s statue remaining, or not, in the middle of the Arcata Plaza. Mr. Holcomb, you want to deal in fact, so here is fact for you.

McKinley was elected to the presidency in 1896 and reelected in 1900. He served from 1897 to 1901 when he was assassinated just six months into his second term. In 1898 McKinley signed the Curtis Act also known as “An Act for the Protection of the People of the Indian Territory”; which did not mean the protection of Indians, it meant the protection of European settlers. The Curtis Act abolished prior treaties with the Five Civilized Tribes, the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole and Cherokee and stripped them of their governments, laws and courts. It also took away Native American land ownership claims, breaking apart those native lands into smaller parcels and giving them to white/European settlers. This served to continue to promote European settler entitlement. also known as manifest destiny (and yes, I know, the term was first coined in 1840). In December of 1898 he proudly addressed Congress saying, ““The Dawes Commission,” (the Commission charged with the task of overseeing the dissolution of the Five Civilized Tribes), “reports that the most gratifying results and greater advance toward the attainment of the objects of the Government have been secured in the past year than in any previous year.” In-other-words, more had been done to deprive Native Americans of their lands and ways of life in the six months since he signed the Curtis Act, than in years before combined.

McKinley was the first president to expand the idea of manifest destiny into Foreign Policy, annexing Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam and the Hawaiian Islands.

In his last message to Congress in December 1900, McKinley spoke of the “uncivilized tribes” of the newly annexed islands. He said, “Many of those tribes are now living in peace and contentment, surrounded by a civilization,” (meaning the United States), “to which they are unable or unwilling to conform.” He went on to say that, “Such tribal governments should, however, be subjected to wise and firm regulation, and, without undue or petty interference,” (meaning from anyone or other entity supporting those tribes). Continuing he stated, “constant and active effort should be exercised to prevent barbarous practices and introduce civilized customs.” In-other-words, he was promising to subject those island nations to the same tactics to civilize their barbarous tribes as were being used on the mainland against Native Americans. Those tactics broke treaties, advanced the interests of business (McKinley was a great protector of European settler business interests), and proved brutal and inhumane.

Though the Massacre at Indian Island here in Humboldt Bay occurred in 1860, before McKinley’s presidency, McKinley’s policies in 1897 through 1901 continued to condone similar behavior; massacres, murders, rapes, enslavement, land grabs, etc.; all across the country. His policies served to rip Native children from their parents arms to send them to boarding schools, continued to open the west to expansionist and entitled land grabs by European settlers, and continued to condone the decimation of Native Peoples’ cultures by any means necessary.

Mr. Holcomb, you asked for facts; you have them. McKinley’s administration did nothing to help Native Peoples, and did a lot to destroy them.

Now I will appeal to your sense of justice and fair play. I will appeal to your heart. The McKinley statue rubs salt in the very open wounds of local Native People, some of whom still have living relatives who were subjected to many of the policies mentioned above. Local tribes have lost ancestors, land, culture and language to the entitled, expansionist attitudes of European settlers. Why not show some compassion? Why not admit that those policies were wrong and take one, relatively easy step to apologize? Why not acknowledge that your history is not the only history of this area, let alone of the United States? I implore you to take the high road and join me in voting No on Measure M. Join me in honoring Native history by voting No on Measure M. Join me in taking a step to end sometimes overt and often covert continuation of European settler hostility towards Native People by voting No on Measure M. Because, after all, sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t serve your interests, but is still the right thing to do. Vote No on Measure M.

Kathleen Marshall, BSRN

Measure M – that’d be a no

The Organizers of the 2018 Women’s March in Humboldt support NO on Measure M, which will allow the City of Arcata to continue removing the statue of William McKinley from the Plaza.

While we are not all from Arcata, this statue and the politics around it does impact all of us indirectly – one rock in a pool makes many ripples.

Racism felt and experienced in Arcata is reflected across Humboldt County (not to mention that HSU attracts more people of color than any other place in the county).

The statue is seen as a symbol of oppression and racism by many in our community. That it remains a city-sanctioned and protected ornament affects the cohesiveness and health of our broader community.

If you were one of the thousands that attended the Women’s March in January, you heard from speakers representing different parts of our community. They each told us what was important to them, what would represent meaningful change in our community.

They shared what ways we could help make Humboldt a welcoming, thriving place for people of color. Many who spoke that day called for the statue to come down. We cheered then. We stand with their call to action now.

Members of the Organizers of the 2018 Women’s March in Humboldt include Tracy Katelman, Michele Pease Walford, Beth Wylie, Dani Burkhart, Michael Simon Schwartz, Pat Kanzler and myself.

Allison Edrington

M: no, no, no, no, no

Arcata residents will be voting in November on Measure M that opposes the City Council’s vote back in February to remove the McKinley statue from the center of the town square.

Many of us who reside in Arcata and those who live outside the city limits but own businesses or work in Arcata support the City Council’s decision. A NO vote in November means the statue will be moved off the Plaza to another location TBD.

We are a group working to defeat ballot Measure M and would like to thank the following Supporters/Endorsements: Owner of Heart Bead, Kim Alvarez and Owner of Solutions, Kevin Johnson, North Coast Coop, Humboldt Pet Supply, Beachcomber, Panache, Sweet Fields Farm Floral, Katie Coar Massage, People’s Records, Humboldt Bay Social Club, NAACP, Centro del Pueblo, Mecha de HSU, Veterans for Peace, Historic Justice Alliance, Move to Amend, Green Party, North Coast People’s Alliance, ShowUp Humboldt, Raging Grannies, WILPF, Friends of the Eel River, Pacifc Alliance for Indigenous and Environmental Action, Same Old People (North Country Fair Board of Directors), Tsurai Ancestral Society, Central Labor Council, Humboldt Progressive Democrats, HSU Legacy Sorority, Organizers of the 2018 Women’s March Eureka, Humboldt Universal Unitarian Fellowship Social Action Committee.

Pamela A. Brown, Arcata
Walt Paniak & Diane Ryerson, Arcata
Richard Kossow, Arcata

Arcata Main Street thanks

On Saturday, Aug. 18, Arcata Main Street held our 4th Annual Explore Arcata/Pizza Feed. We brought almost 300 residence hall students to the Plaza for a tour of the Downtown. We followed this event with concert of music on the Plaza from 3 to 8 p.m.

Participating businesses offered specials and discounts. We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help. We especially want to thank the Director and staff of the HSU Residence Living, the Hotel Arcata for donating their Banquet Room, The Jam for help with the pizzas, The HSU Women’s Softball team who helped with serving and clean-up and all the businesses that participated with specials. It was a great success and we look forward to next year.

Jeanette Todd, executive director
Arcata Main Street




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