Protesters Deface Roosevelt Statue Outside Natural History Museum

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The Theodore Roosevelt statue outside the American Museum of Natural History after protestors had splashed it with a red liquid. Credit Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Protesters splattered red liquid onto the base of the bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt outside the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, and later published a statement on the internet calling for its removal as an emblem of “patriarchy, white supremacy and settler-colonialism.”

“Now the statue is bleeding,” said the statement Thursday from the protesters, who identified themselves as members of the Monument Removal Brigade. “We did not make it bleed. It is bloody at its very foundation.”

The group said the museum should “rethink its cultural halls regarding the colonial mentality behind them.”

City workers using a power washer, a sponge and soapy water later began cleaning the statue, the latest focus of debate over statues or monuments around the country that celebrate figures like Robert E. Lee and Christopher Columbus. In Pittsburgh this week, the city’s arts commission recommended the removal of a statue of Stephen Foster, the composer. The statue shows Foster playing the banjo as he stands above a black slave.

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The base of the Theodore Roosevelt statue outside the American Museum of Natural History is cleaned after being splashed with a red liquid. Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

The statue of Roosevelt, a conservationist, has stood outside the museum since 1940. Created by James Earle Fraser, and owned by the city, it depicts Roosevelt astride a horse and flanked by a Native American and an African American.

Long regarded as a politician who battled corruption, challenged monopolies and championed Civil Service, Roosevelt has also been criticized for his views of certain peoples as inferior and his defense of colonial expansion.

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