Following the McKinley Statue Controversy: Where to Next?

Arcata, Ca., (KIEM)- The Arcata City Council has already voted (four to one) for the removal of the statue of William McKinley from the center of the plaza. When the 25th President, cast in bronze, comes down for his pedestal… where will he go?

That’s the question council woman Susan Ornelas is posing to the her compatriots at the city. “I’ve just come to realize, people have such opinions about this whole issue.” She explains, “They want to have a say in it, and so I asked the other city councilors (and we decided to move it on to a future agenda) to have a discussion about the citizens voting on where the statue could go.”

In the weeks to come the city council will discuss putting an advisory vote to the public, allowing the people to choose a new resting place (so to speak) for the Haig Patigian statue. Some of the proposed locations? The Arcata Veterans Hall, or a local museum.

“I came to the conclusion that he shouldn’t be at the center of our plaza, but I still absolutely support this statue as something that was given to the city of Arcata, so I think it should be put somewhere where it can be honored.” Councilwoman ornelas explains.

For her part, the city councilor says she’s been reading up on the area’s history. She did note her conclusion that the statue probably shouldn’t preside over the plaza, but she also recognizes McKinley as a celebrated union soldier and Civil War veteran. “It’s been a really interesting adventure for me.. reading about McKinley as a President, reading about California native history, reading about the late eighteen hundreds/early nineteen hundreds, and the sculptor Haig Patigian. It’s given me a deeper richer feel for the city of Arcata.”

After Nine months or more of debate, Ornelas says she hopes the community will ultimately gain mutual understanding. “My hope is that we’ll have a theme of education during this period of time between now and the time people vote. People can learn about this history of this area. I think it is a deep rich opportunity for us to have a really historic conversation.”

To learn more about the removal vote: