Racist Teddy Roosevelt statue removed in New York

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The controversial statue of former president Theodore Roosevelt, which has now been removed, stood outside the Museum of Natural History for over 80 years  (Getty Images)
The controversial statue of former president Theodore Roosevelt, which has now been removed, stood outside the Museum of Natural History for over 80 years (Getty Images)

A controversial statue of America’s 26th president Theodore Roosevelt has been removed from outside New York City’s American Museum of Natural History.

The 10-ft-tall bronze statue was taken down a little after midnight on Wednesday with the help of a crane in an operation costing about $2m (£1.4m). It was first unveiled in 1940 and stood in front of the Manhattan museum for more than 80 years.

The installation depicted Roosevelt on horseback, with representations of a Native American man and an African man walking beside him. The statue has sparked protests in recent years for glorifying colonialism and racism.

The controversial statue will now be sent to a library in North Dakota on a long-term loan.

The museum said on its website that it was proud of its long association with the Roosevelt family. But it add added: “At the same time, the statue itself communicates a racial hierarchy the museum and members of the public have long found disturbing.

“The process, conducted with historic preservation specialists and approved by multiple New York City agencies, will include restoration of the plaza in front of the museum, which will continue through the spring,” a museum spokesperson said, according to NBC News.

Last June, authorities decided to relocate the statue after Black Lives Matter protests intensified, with many calling for the removal of racist statues. Last month, the statue was covered with an orange cloth.

Former mayor Bill de Blasio had said in June that it was “the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue”.

One of the former president’s descendants, Theodore Roosevelt V, cheered the removal plan last year, saying it was “fitting that the statue is being relocated to a place where its composition can be re-contextualised to facilitate difficult, complex and inclusive discussions”.

Roosevelt, who was president of the United States from 1901 to 1909, has his face depicted on Mount Rushmore alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. While he is largely credited with being a progressive leader, laying the groundwork for the modern Democratic party, he was also a believer in white supremacy.

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