To the audible delight of nearly all in attendance at City Hall Wednesday night, the Arcata City Council voted to take down the long-controversial statue of President William McKinley that’s been glaring down on the Arcata Plaza since 1906.
After around three hours of passionate public comment, Councilmember Paul Pitino, a longtime advocate of the statue’s removal, made the motion that would seal McKinley’s fate. Councilmember Susan Ornelas seconded. The council ultimately voted 4-1 with Councilmember Michael Winkler dissenting due to his belief that the statue’s future should be put on the ballot for Arcata residents to vote on.
The council also voted unanimously to remove a plaque placed on the Plaza in the 1960s designating Jacoby’s Storehouse as a California Registered Historic Landmark. The monument contains an objectionable description, stating the building “served periodically as a refuge” during periods of “Indian troubles.”
The energized crowd filled the room and spilled into the back hallway. Almost all of the near 50 speakers who approached the podium spoke in favor of ending McKinley’s Plaza reign, many citing the 25th president’s imperialist tendencies and a desire for a less divisive, more representative centerpiece for the town. Above, the Outpost has compiled video containing many of the voices of those brave enough to approach the mic (if you’re a die hard and want to watch all four hours of Wednesday’s meeting, though, you have that option).
A date for the McKinley statue’s impeachment was not set at the meeting. On Thursday Councilmember Pitino discussed the historic decision on-air with KHUM’s Bayley Brown. You can hear their chat below.