About 150 people rallied outside the Museum of Natural History on Sunday in an effort to save the statue of President Teddy Roosevelt there from removal.
Cries of “Save Teddy!” and “Save Our History!” came from the crowd protesting the Upper West Side institution’s move to remove the bronze effigy of Roosevelt, which has stood at its entrance since 1940.
“This statue is of a proud American. Was he perfect? No. No one was perfect… he did a lot for this country,” said Gavin Wax, president of the New York Young Republicans Club, which organized the demonstration.
“We’re here today because we’ve bettered ourselves as a society and we continue to better ourselves as a society,” Wax said. “But we’ll never be able to do that anymore if we continue to tear down our history and forget our past — and we’ll be doomed to repeat it.”
The protest group on Sunday held signs that read “DEFEND OUR MONUMENTS” and “Can not learn from the past if we erase HISTORY!!” as they heard from speakers during the hour-long demonstration.
“Teddy Roosevelt believed in an America without hyphens. Not white Americans, not black Americans, not brown Americans. Just Americans,” said David Marcus, a correspondent for The Federalist and contributor to The Post’s opinion pages, including about the decision to oust the statue.
“He believed in a future for this country where we would all live together peacefully, and that’s the future that I see in front of me right here,” said Marcus.
Counter-protesters organized by a black Evangelical group from Georgia set up speakers across the avenue, preaching against the worship of a graven image — referring to the Roosevelt statue.
Some time later, another group of counter-protesters rallied, brandishing signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “End glorifying colonialism.”
The contested monument — which shows the nation’s 26th president on horseback, flanked by an African man and a Native American man — has long been criticized for glorifying colonialism and racism. It was vandalized with paint in 2017.
The museum — which is privately run but sits on public land — recently requested the statue be moved and the city agreed.
The move came amid nationwide protests over racial inequality and a push to remove public works honoring Confederate leaders.
“Over the last few weeks, our museum community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd,” the museum’s president, Ellen Futter, said in a statement.
“We have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism,” she added. “Simply put, the time has come to move it.”
Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have backed the museum’s decision.
Source: New York Post
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