PORTLAND, Ore. (NewsNation Now) — Portland police say protesters overturned statues of former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and smashed the windows of several buildings on Sunday night.
The protests were held in a declaration of “rage” toward Columbus Day.
Protest organizers dubbed the event “Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage,” in response to Monday’s federal holiday named after 15th-century Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, a polarizing figure who Native American advocates have said spurred centuries of genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas.
The group threw chains around Roosevelt’s statue, officially titled “Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Rider.” The crowd pulled down the statue just before 9 p.m.
Historians have said Roosevelt expressed hostility toward Native Americans, once saying: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are …”
The group later turned their attention toward Lincoln’s statue, pulling it down about eight minutes later. The words “Stolen Land” were spray painted on the base of the monument, NewsNation affiliate KOIN reported.
Protesters also spray-painted “Dakota 38” on Lincoln’s statue, referencing the 38 Dakota men Lincoln approved to have hanged after the men were involved in a violent conflict with white settlers in Minnesota.
The windows and glass doors to the Oregon Historical Society were also smashed.
Kerry Tymchuk, the historical society’s executive director, told KOIN that there was a lot of broken glass at the building’s entrance, but none of the exhibits inside were damaged.
Portland State University Campus Public Safety office was damaged as well.
Police later declared the event a riot and ordered the group to disperse. Police said anyone involved in “criminal behavior, including vandalism” was subject to arrest. It’s unclear if any arrests were made.
The monuments are the latest statues to come down in a wave of removed monuments and protests sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KOIN contributed to this report.