Before this is over antifa will have a statue, commemorating their current campaign, which includes the toppling of old statues, and the city’s leaders will be there to commemorate it. There are many ideal spaces with pedestals ready to receive the new dispensation.
It was certain the Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt statues were not going to be restored after antifa took it upon themselves to liberate the city of their oppressive presence, though no one’s been asking. Those and a statue of a settler family arriving in Oregon, The Promised Land, probably couldn’t be restored even if the will was there–antifa would simply keep coming back to deface or topple them–and according to new rules quietly instituted, in the future the city will remove them for antifa, if they deface a monument for a period of time with “social justice oriented” graffiti (see below).
The 120 year-old Elk statue downtown may rise again–the minor fire damage to which it was subjected was incidental, nothing personal so to speak, it’s just the dry fountain pool around it made a nice big fire pit and the city thought it wise to remove the Elk before it was destroyed. Antifa then began gradually demolishing the fountain and pedestal with pick axes–the rubble making for good projectiles, the city eventually came and cleared out the ruins. Theoretical thumbsuckers appeared online at the time explaining What the Elk Means to antifa and why it had to be destroyed, but no: this one was purely collateral damage. They were indifferent to the Elk–and that in itself is something because they’re not indifferent to much.
While they may not have picked the Elk for any particular reason they welcomed and riffed on the shock its treatment produced in the public, first replacing the statue with a crude wooden “Evil Elk” parody, which was later captured and brandished as a trophy by their Patriot Prayer enemies. A progressively crasser series of iterations occupied the dirt mound where the fountain and Elk had stood until the last, a miserable thing made out of pallets was, I saw for myself, toppled, not by political actors but by black thugs who were sacking the antifa mutual aid “Jail Support” tents huddled around the spot, for whatever donation money the wretched little operation had on hand–grift was getting lean after the crowds of naive white zoomers occupying the park all summer went home in the Fall.
For the destruction of the two statues downtown, the Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt statues nearby and the George Washington statue across the Willamette river a total of one person has been charged by District Attorney Mike Schmidt–the guy who drove the van that pulled down Lincoln and Roosevelt on antifa’s Indigenous Day of Rage” (if it was a food product, the label would have to read it conains less than ten percent actual “indigenous” rage):
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced this afternoon his office was charging two men in connection to a Sunday night riot that damaged the Oregon Historical Society and other buildings and saw a crowd pull down statues of former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt that have stood for nearly a century.
Schmidt’s office charged Brandon Bartells, 38, residence unknown, with one count of criminal mischief and one count of riot for allegedly driving a vehicle that toppled the Roosevelt statue, causing an estimated $20,000 in damage. (He was not charged in connection with the Lincoln toppling, which the DA’s office estimates did $10,000 in damage.)
Local political leaders, including Sara Iannarone, “antifa candidate” running against Mayor Ted Wheeler, uniformly condemned the action.
“I condemn all acts of violence and destruction, especially those targeting public art,” Iannarone said in a statement early Monday morning. “Our systems of government have long ignored problematic symbols and impacts of institutional racism. I am committed to changing that as mayor. People are hurting and that pain is valid. But anonymous acts of destruction outside of any agreed-upon process are toxic, unaccountable behavior that has no place in our city.”
At a press conference later in the morning, Wheeler, speaking on the controversial holiday formerly known as Columbus Day but for the past five years in Portland called Indigenous Peoples Day, said the participants in last night’s incidents “co-opted what is otherwise a peaceful opportunity and instead engaged in acts of criminal destruction.”
“These acts are obscene,” Wheeler added. “As mayor, I will never tolerate violence or criminal destruction.”
Schmidt struck a similar tone this afternoon.
“It is sickening to me to see the destruction that occurred in Portland overnight,” Schmidt said. “For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society, its staff of researchers, educators and volunteers have documented, preserved and shared Oregon’s history. They have put a spotlight on white supremacy, racism, civil rights and social inequality. They have elevated the voices and stories of marginalized and under-served communities in Oregon.”
And this was the last we heard about the crimes or the statues from government. This acquiescence has given implicit sanction for the destruction–by virtue of its desecration–of American history; I say that because I’m sure if antifa had torn up sidewalk to the tune of a hundred thousand dollars damage or more, the city authorities and District Attorney would feel no shyness about punishing and deterring any further instance of this senseless waste of public property.
Last summer and fall, protesters toppled Portland statues depicting three U.S. presidents: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
Last month, local authorities quietly adopted a policy that could ensure the statues stay down.
Regional curators adopted a policy that says public artworks can be removed if the “subject or impact of an artwork is significantly at odds with values of antiracism, equity, inclusion.” There’s a strong chance the presidents won’t pass muster.
The policy: On May 5, the board of the Regional Arts and Culture Council amended its policies on adding and withdrawing public art. RACC, a nonprofit, contracts with Portland City Hall and Multnomah County to collect and maintain government-owned artworks, including statues. It’s also in charge of removing (or “deaccessioning”) such artworks from public collections, under certain circumstances.
The policy change RACC’s board approved last month expands those circumstances. It says artwork that’s at odds with antiracism can be removed. Same goes for art that becomes a rallying place for “gatherings centered on racist or bigoted ideology.”
RACC is funded by public money but has an independent board, somehow. In an astonishing new policy the board has not only sanctioned further vandalism of monuments, but encourages it:
RACC can also decide to get rid of public art if it becomes the target of “overwhelming public objection” for at least two years. That means if enough people vandalize a work with “social justice oriented graffiti,” that can be reason to remove it from the public collection.
Expect antifa to descend like pigeons on any objectionable work. Portland and Oregon’s old historic aesthetic celebrated settlement and pioneers, and the area is resource-rich for the new postmodern pioneers, and the replacement of the ritual celebration of a history with its rejection and condemnation proceeds like a parody, a black mass version of our history.
I don’t know how much autonomy RACC’s independent board has from the city, but it has complete independence from the public that funds it:
The idea that Abraham Lincoln was too racist to honor now is hardly a consensus view. But don’t expect tribunals for the presidents. While RACC plans to present its new policy to the Portland City Council this summer, it doesn’t plan to hold public hearings on each statue’s fate.
From the RACC website:
An independent nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, the Regional Arts & Culture Council supports the creative economy in greater Portland by equitably providing funding and services to artists and art organizations; managing and growing a diverse, nationally-acclaimed, public art program; and developing long-lasting public and private partnerships. We connect artists and creatives to opportunity and access.
According to an audit in 2018 requested by Mayor Wheeler the organization is funded entirely by the three Willamette Valley counties it serves. Typically what a group like this does is pass out small grants and create education programs and the like, and the Council’s budget is tiny. Where in the city charter does it say this unelected body has the authority to remove monuments and sanction vandalism? I have yet to find it. The link to the RACC page at the city’s website is down, returning a 404 error. The closest thing I’ve found to authorization is here in the city’s description of the group providing “stewardship of the City’s public art program.”
The City Arts Program manages the contract with the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), the City’s arts agent. RACC provides a broad range of arts services on behalf of the City and region, including advocacy, grants administration, arts education monitoring, and stewardship of the City’s public art program.
RACC liaises with the city through the office of Commissioner Carmen Rubio, a rookie and redder, maybe, even than Jo Ann Hardesty, leader of the abolitionist movement who came into office with the intention of “ending white Portland.”
While some of the crude street art that went, and remains, up after the riots kicked off was donated to black activist grifters, probably out of fear of giving offense in the case of Apple–who, to reclaim their downtown store after it was made into a shrine to George Floyd, had to remove the plywood boarding covered in BLM graffiti art (the sleek glass cube style store now operates behind two-story tall steel-framed fencing held down by concrete traffic blocks that resemble the entrance to a prison). We can expect much of it to stay where it remains, grim and gaudy.
New art is going up already, too. The two-story portrait below incorporates the overtuned pedestal of the George Washington statue that came down:
And no relief in sight.