Officials in San Francisco, Calif. voted unanimously on Monday to remove a statue of a Native American man that has caused controversy, the New York Times reports.
Titled "Early Days," it shows an unidentified Native American at the feet of a British "explorer" and Catholic missionary. They are Sir Francis Drake, a 16th century English sea captain, and Junípero Serra, a Roman Catholic Spanish priest who founded the first nine Spanish missions in California from San Diego to San Francisco. To no surprise at all, the deeds of both men were overshadowed by their cruel behaviors. Sir Francis Drake was a slave trader, while some Native Americans blame Serra for "the suppression of their culture and the premature deaths at the missions of thousands of their ancestors."
The statue was built in the late 19th century as part of the Pioneer Monument, a memorial that reflects the history of California, and sits across a park from San Francisco’s City Hall.
The controversy surrounding the sculpture has been around for years, but it regained traction following the violent aftermath of a white nationalist rally that was protesting plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va. "It definitely feels like a long time coming," Barbara Mumby, an arts commission employee who comes from Native American descent, said of San Francisco's vote to get rid of the statue. "I think some people may not understand how big of a symbol it is to be able to take this down."
“The arts commission heard the public outcry against the imagery represented in the ‘Early Days’ sculpture and took the appropriate steps to help rectify an historic injustice,” Tom DeCaigny, San Francisco’s director of cultural affairs, said in a statement.