For more than a dozen years, Marion Reid, 77, had passed the statue of Theodore Roosevelt, an employer he said he often did not treat African Americans with dignity, on his way to work in information technology at the American Museum of Natural History .
He drove to Manhattan around noon on Sunday to take a picture of the statue before officials made plans to remove it from its pride at the entrance to the museum’s Central Park West, and then saw themselves engulfed by around 150 protesters who asked to be preserved . Among them were men in seersucker suits and women with pearls, people wearing MAGA hats and others waving the flags of Blue Lives Matter while saying “Save Teddy. Save our police. Save law and order. “About a dozen police officers were nearby.
Demonstrators’ Sunday came to defy the nationwide movement that has been struggling for decades to topple monuments that, like the Roosevelt statue, have been associated with racism, colonialism and oppression.
“We’re arguing for the last will and will of the United States,” said David Marcus, organizer of the rally and contributor to the conservative The Federalist website, about a megaphone. “We are full-blooded brothers and sisters and heirs to the most extraordinary experiment in freedom the world has ever known. God bless Teddy Roosevelt. “
The museum announced last week that with the approval of the mayor and President Roosevelt’s family, it would remove the 80-year-old bronze statue.
The president of the museum, Ellen V. Futter, emphasized last week that the decision was not about Roosevelt, but about statue itself – namely its “hierarchical composition”. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the president rode high on horseback, flanked by an Indian and an African, and portrayed them as “subjugated and racially inferior.”
Speakers who supported the statue used the protest to scold a wide range of subjects, such as abortion and religion. A woman called for the removal of “feminists and homosexuals” from the city council.
A demonstrator in the 1970s, who gave her name as Sharon, said, “I don’t see the statue as racist, and that word is overused and dramatized today.” She said the debate about the statue “certainly has nothing to do with the Minneapolis police situation in which a man was murdered.” She referred to George Floyd, who died in police custody on May 25.
“In the past few weeks, our museum community has been deeply moved by the growing racial justice movement that emerged after the murder of George Floyd,” said museum president, Ellen V. Futter, in one interview with time. “We have seen how the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned Statues as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism. “
The decision came as a pleasant surprise to the hundreds of activists who demanded the removal of the monument through annual protests on Columbus Day in the museum where the statue was displayed splashed with red liquid in 2017.
Most of the demonstrators in the crowd wore none despite the mask global upswing in Covid-19 cases.
Concern over the coronavirus pandemic had not stopped 26-year-old Gavin Wax from planning the protest. “It’s much more than a statue,” said Wax, president of the New York Young Republicans Club. “You can’t judge pre-modern people by post-modern moral standards because you don’t have a history at that speed.”
Mr. Wax said: “We have to calm down and say that nobody sees racism in this statue. When you do that, you have to look into yourself and not into other people. “
The problem is simple for Mr. Reid from Westchester, the former museum employee who is black. “The statue is racist,” he said. “What I see here are Trumpites who want to return to the status quo. They want “Gone with the wind, ’ The good old days when African Americans stayed in place and racism was swept under the carpet. “