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Portland Protesters Burn and Topple Statue of George Washington

By Andrew Davenport | June 19, 2020 | 12:20pm EDT
(Twitter)
(Twitter)

On Thursday evening, protesters gathered in Portland, Ore., and set fire to a statue of George Washington, toppled it over and further vandalized it, according to the Portland Police Bureau.

During the night of June 18, a group of protesters “gathered on the 5700 block of Northeast Sandy Boulevard and set fire to the George Washington statue,” said the police in a statement. They also “tore down and vandalized the George Washington statue. Group members associated with this incident dispersed by running off into surrounding neighborhoods.” 

The police said there were multiple demonstrations in Portland on June 18-19.

Local Portland News KOIN 6 reported that a group of about 20 demonstrators covered the George Washington statue’s head with an American flag and set fire to it. 

Protestors also defaced the statue and pedestal. They spray-painted, “Genocidal Colonist,” “F--- Cops,” “You’re on Native Land,” “No Good Cops,” “1619,” and more. 1619 is a reference to the year 1619, which marks the first year African slaves arrived in the United States.

The 1619 project is also a New York Times Magazine campaign that started in 2019 with the goal of “re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia.”

The 1619 project has received wide criticism for historical inaccuracy.

Following the toppling of the statue, another American flag apparently was burned on the statue’s back, as seen in a video posted on Twitter. 

Thursday’s protests marked the 21st day of demonstrations in response to the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. All four officers in that case have been charged and the lead officer, Derek Chauvin, is being prosecuted for second degree murder.

The George Washington statue dates back to 1926, according to the Portland Regional Arts and Culture Council.

The toppling of the Washington statue is just one of several cases nationwide of political vandalism and destruction of property.

On June 16, Popular Mechanics published an article by James Stout entitled, “How to Topple a Statue Using Science.” In the article, Stout explains, “Should you happen to find yourself near a statue that you decide you no longer like, we asked scientists for the best, safest ways to bring it to the ground without anyone getting hurt -- except, of course, for the inanimate racist who’s been dead for a century anyway.”

The article garnered criticism from many conservatives, such as writers and commentators Ben Shapiro and Christina Hoff Summers. 

No arrests were made in response to the vandalism of the Washington statue. 

Portland police ask anyone with information about individuals who committed criminal activity at any event to share that information with the Portland Police Bureau. Information can be sent via email to CrimeTips@portlandoregon.gov 

George Washington (1732-1799) led the Continental Army to victory against the British in the Revolutionary War (1775-83). He was America’s first president and served two terms. He is considered the “father of our country.”

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