One of New York City’s oldest scientific and cultural institutions bowed to civil unrest, demanding that a monument to the hero of San Juan Hill be dismantled.
The American Museum of Natural History has decided Central Park West is no place for the Equestrian Statue. Artist James Fraser finished the bronze sculpture in 1940, featuring former President Theodore Roosevelt on horseback with an Indian and African American standing on either side of him.
Extreme “anarchist” protests have swept across the nation since Minnesotan George Floyd died in police custody. Local police allegedly handcuffed and kneed Floyd’s throat before he became unresponsive on May 25.
When demonstrators took the opportunity to renew earlier calls for removal of the monument to what they claim to be white supremacy, the institute succumbed to their demands.
“The Equestrian Statue in front of the museum has long been controversial for the racial hierarchy it depicts,” the museum said on Twitter. “The museum has asked that it be moved.”
The museum recognized protesters oppose the monument because the elevated position of President Roosevelt appeared to show prejudice against people belonging to other cultures.
“The statue has long been controversial because of the hierarchical composition that places one figure on horseback and the others walking alongside, and many of us find its depictions of the Native American and African figures and their placement in the monument racist,” a representative said in a statement. “The statue was meant to celebrate Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) as a devoted naturalist and author of works on natural history … at the same time, the statue itself communicates a racial hierarchy that the museum and members of the public have long found disturbing.”
A 2018 mayoral advisory commission report to the city of New York could not reach a mutual agreement on what to do with the statue.
Multiple commission members wanted to preserve the monument and simply provide different interpretations of the sculpture and the artist’s intentions.
“The goal would be to rethink how the statue is presented, to frame it in a way that discloses the historical distance we have traveled from once-popular ideas,” the report said.
About half of commission members also believed further historical research was required before any recommendation should be made.
“This group of commission members proposes to the city that this monument be the first considered in the evaluation framework detailed in this report,” the report said.
The Oval Office strongly opposed any proposal to remove the monument.
“Ridiculous, do not do it,” President Donald Trump said on Twitter.
Despite this finding the museum still wants to tear down the statue.
“While the statue is owned by the city, the museum recognizes the importance of taking a position at this time,” it said. “We believe that the statue should no longer remain and have requested that it be moved.”