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Arts board says statues toppled during Portland protests should not return to original sites

Under the recommendation, the statues, including those of US presidents, wouldn't return to where they once stood, but would remain in the city's collection.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), a nonprofit that oversees public artwork in the city of Portland, endorsed a recommendation Wednesday to not return five statues that were toppled and removed during last year's protests in Portland to their original location, including those of former U.S. presidents.

The statue of George Washington at Northeast 57th and Sandy was toppled and spray-painted back in June 2020, less than a month after the protests and riots began following the murder of George Floyd. The Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt statues downtown were toppled during one demonstration in October 2020.

Mt. Tabor's statue of Harvey Scott, former editor and part owner of The Oregonian who opposed women's suffrage, was also toppled last year, and Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that a statue depicting pioneers titled "The Promised Land" was targeted in Chapman Square downtown.

Under the recommendation, none of these statues will be returned, but they will remain in the city's public art collection for now. 

As for the beloved elk statue that was set on fire and removed from Southwest Main Street, "city officials have decided that Elk will return to downtown Portland," RACC said in a news release.

It's unclear, however, where the elk statue will be placed, but it may not return to downtown for some time

Meanwhile, RACC will be considering which of the other removed monuments should be assigned a new home and whether all of them should remain in the city's public collection. 

The nonprofit said these decisions will require meaningful community engagement. You can sign up for RACC's online newsletter to be notified of future engagement opportunities. 

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