Carrying signs and chanting in Spokane, Wash., about 40 Pacific Islanders and allies protested the statue of a 19th-century U.S. Navy sailor.
The rally: The protesters marched through downtown Spokane on Oct. 16. demanding City Council members take down a statue of John R. Monaghan.
- Organizers and countless other Pacific Islanders contend the statue is a constant reminder of the death and anti-Samoan racism that the U.S. military inflicted on them.
- The rally organizers, Citizens’ Advisory Council (CAC) Community Outreach, sent a petition titled “Remove the Racist John R. Monaghan Statue from Downtown Spokane, WA” to the Spokane City Council.
- In a CNN article about the Monaghan memorial, Joseph Seia, founder and executive director of the Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington, said community members first started pushing for change years ago. Last June, they renewed their demand.
- “There’s no honor in lifting up somebody that killed our ancestors,” Seia said to CNN.
- Kiana McKenna, director of Eastern Washington services for the Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington, told CNN that the statue, “with its offensive imagery and racist language, stands as a message that says that we are unwelcome here and/or thought of as less than human, which is usually what the word ‘savage’ tries to imply.”
Historical significance: According to CAC Community Outreach, the statue of Monaghan was erected in 1906.
- “Although most who pass by the statue are unlikely to know who Monaghan was, or what battle he fought in, it is known around the world to the Pacific Islander community as a devastating reminder of the thousands of innocent men, women, and children whom were brutally murdered,” CAC Community Outreach wrote in the petition. “It stands as a monument to the unprovoked, antagonistic, colonial attacks by the United States on Sāmoa and Sāmoan civilians, and to the racist perceptions that Americans had of them at that time. The impacts have been deep and lasting.”
- “But the racist and ignorant perceptions that went virtually unquestioned during that era should not be allowed to represent Spokane today, 115 years later,” they continued. “We must not continue to pay homage to unjust wars, people who carry them out, and racist, colonial beliefs that lead to them.”
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