Arcata's McKinley statue: Should it stay or should it go?


ARCATA, Calif. - The statue of a former U.S. president, William McKinley, located in the center of the Arcata plaza, stands on shaky ground.

During an Arcata City Council meeting Wednesday, Nov. 1, a handful of citizens took to the podium to propose a petition to remove the statue from the plaza. One of the concerned citizens was Nathaniel McGuigan, a Humboldt State University (HSU) student and co-chair of the M.E.Ch.A chapter for the school.

McGuigan is calling for the immediate removal of the McKinley statue.

"It's a symbol of colonization," he said. "It's a reminder of the horrible atrocities in their own land, and it also represents imperialism considering that imperialism is still active in many parts of the world."

McGuigan cited some of McKinley's foreign policy actions as reasons he is against the former president's statue. He discussed McKinley entering the Spanish-American War that liberated Cuba.

"He used the U.S. Military to expand into territories in the pacific and the Atlantic, which led to the annexation and colonization of over 7,000 islands," McGuigan said.

Some of those islands include Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"This is an issue of human rights," McGuigan said. "We need to recognize the human value and the human experience; many people are still suffering from colonization."

Not everyone agrees that removing the statue is for the best, though.

Amanda Cooper lives in Arcata, and she opposes the removal of the statue.

Cooper said, "Removing the statue means the statue is not going to be there, so children are not going to ask the questions, why the statue is there."

Like McGuigan, Cooper recognizes that there is painful history associated with the former president for some people, but she thinks that is the very reason the statue should stay where it is.

"These statues are here so that we learn not to repeat history, and say this is what happened," Cooper said. "Very bad things happened during this time, but they are here to represent that, so that we don't repeat history."

The Arcata City Council will begin dialogue on the statue's future next month.

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