What promised to be a radical, relaxed teach-in transformed in a moment of revolutionary furor. The event planned for the day, “Community Teach In: Oregon’s Racist History,” began at a comfortable few minutes past 6pm. A series of three speeches were given, all touching upon colonialism in the United States, Oregon’s extensive and frankly shockingly racist history, and exploitation under capitalism. At around 7pm, the speeches drew to a close, and the crowd was told to disperse or do as the please – two tables full of free food and revolutionary literature were set up on location. However, the revolutionary ferver could not be contained, and so a group of comrades unaffiliated with the Bipoc Liberation Collective (BLC) organizers, stood up and reminded the crowd of the presence of racist statues not but 20 yards from their current location.
Immediately the majority of the approximately 250 people joined in a march from Deady Hall to the “Pioneer Father,” which was erected to celebrate the strength of the “race.” The mass of anxious yet eager radicals formed a semi circle around the statue as the ropes wrapped around the torso and neck of the statue. Moments later, they formed two lines and began to pull. The ropes tightened, and then, silence. In this odd tranquility there rose the question: what will happen? The reverie evaporated with the clanging of metal and concrete giving way. The statue plunged into the sidewalk below with a horrid screech.
The crowd erupted in a moment of adulation, which then crystallized into a single message: “Let’s drag it to Johnson Hall.” The crowd quickly reassembled under the chant “stay together, stay tight” and dragged the statue across 13th Ave. and up the stairs to the door of the seat of power at the University.
The spirit of history was felt by all who there present, such that there was only one option: to tear down all symbols glorifying exploitation and embodying hate. The other statue at this location was a partner statue to the Pioneer Statue, the “Pioneer Mother.” And so too it fell, with the sparks of pickaxes flowing as they removed the metal epitaphs and engravings from their marble mountings on the base of the statue. With this moment of triumph, the mass marched off together, into the alleys of Eugene. With so many years and entire generations of local residents campaigning for the removal of the statues, the deed is done at last. This has been a victory, but we have not won. The struggle continues.