San Francisco statue criticized as racist to Indigenous people removed

A 19th century statue near San Francisco's City Hall that some said is racist and demeaning to Indigenous people was removed Friday and put into storage.

Was part of a group of statues depicting the founding of California

Crews remove a statue that some have called racist and demeaning to Indigenous people, near City Hall in San Francisco on Friday. The statue depicts a Native American at the feet of a Spanish cowboy and a Catholic missionary, part of a group of statues depicting the founding of California. A San Francisco board voted unanimously on Wednesday to remove it. ((KTVU-TV/The Associated Press)

A 19th century statue near San Francisco's City Hall that some said is racist and demeaning to Indigenous people was removed Friday and put into storage.

A group of Native Americans chanted, beat drums and burned sage as the workers used a crane to take down the statue depicting a Native American at the feet of a Spanish cowboy and a Catholic missionary. It was part of a group of statues depicting the founding of California.

Native American activists tried to have the statue removed for decades. They renewed efforts last year after clashes broke out across the U.S. over Confederate monuments.

The San Francisco Board of Appeals on Wednesday voted unanimously to remove the statue, which had been in its location for 124 years.

"I think we're witnessing a moment in history where, commendably, San Francisco officials are doing the right thing to help rectify the mistreatment of Indigenous people," Janeen Antoine, who is of Lakota heritage, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"We're very happy this is finally happening after decades of work and struggle from the native community."

The statue will stay in storage until officials decide what to do with it, said San Francisco's Arts Commission spokeswoman Kate Patterson.

Several entities including a California museum have expressed interest in housing it, Patterson said.