Damaged CPSO sign in front of CPSO building. Justin Grinnell/PSU Vanguard

Demonstrators topple statues, break windows during “Indigenous People’s Day of Rage”

Two statues were toppled and multiple windows were broken—including the windows at Portland State’s Campus Public Safety Office—during a demonstration on Oct. 11 billed “Indegenous People’s Day of Rage” by organizers. No injuries were reported, and three people have been arrested. The demonstration was held in commemoration of Indegenous People’s Day, a holiday increasingly recognized in place of Christopher Columbus Day by many cities and states. 

Demonstrators toppled an Abraham Lincoln statue and a Theodore Roosevelt statue, both located in the Southwest Park Blocks near the PSU campus. Windows were smashed at the Oregon Historical Society (OHS), the Portland Art Museum, and the CPSO building. Flares were thrown into the OHS, where a “priceless” quilt was also singed and stolen. It has since been recovered, according to The Oregonian.

“Please know that PSU supports the right to peacefully protest on our campus,” stated PSU president Stepen Percy. “We are grateful that most who have participated in protests in our city over the last several months have chosen to use peaceful tactics to give voice to their concerns and positions. At the same time, we do not in any way condone violence, including the violent acts by some who participated in last night’s protest.” 

According to PSU Media and Public Relations Director Christina Williams, the damages to the CPSO office amount to $12,000–15,000 in damages. Those costs will not be taken out of the student building fee, but will be covered by an insurance claim. 

According to Executive Director of the OHS Kerry Tymchuk, as reported by The Oregonian, damages to the museum amounted to roughly $25,000. 

According to media relations manager of Portland Parks and Recreation Mark Ross, the statues will be removed from their current locations and taken to be assessed by curators with the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RCAA) to determine damages and any needed repairs. 

“On June 17, 2020, City Council adopted six core values to guide City operations…anti-racism, equity, transparency, communication, collaboration and fiscal responsibility,” Ross stated. “These values will also drive RACC’s, and the City’s work to maintain public art and monuments. This work is an important part of our critical national and local conversations about systemic racism and racial justice.”

United States President Donald Trump reacted early in the morning of Oct. 12 on Twitter to news of the demonstration. “Put these animals in jail, now,” he wrote. “The Radical Left only knows how to take advantage of of very dumb ‘leadership’ fools. This is Biden! Law and Order.” 

By late afternoon on Oct. 12, most of the broken windows had been boarded up and the statues removed. More demonstrations commemorating Indegenous People’s Day are scheduled to take place this week. 

The PSU Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative, which recently conducted a study that found that Native American students at PSU at nearly twice as likely to experience houselessness and food insecurity than white students, wrote in a tweet: “On #IndigenousPeoplesDay we reflect on what Native Americans overcame. Those who survived genocied lost their land and were forced to relocate. Today Native Americans are 5x as likely to experience #homelessness in Multnomah County.” 

PSU celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day and stands with our Indigenous students, faculty and staff,” Percy wrote in an email to the PSU community commemorating Indiginous People’s Day. “We have much to learn from the culture, values and traditions of Indigenous people as we seek greater justice, protection of natural resources and effective strategies for collective response to the challenges that face us.” 

Karisa Yuasa contributed to this report