EUGENE, Ore. – University of Oregon President Michael Schill is condemning the destruction of two statues on campus over the weekend.
An unknown group tore down the Pioneer and Pioneer Mother statues. Schill said they were “vandalized in dramatic fashion.”
Graduate student Marc Carpenter told KEZI 9 News he's done extensive research on the statues' history.
"I found that this statue was inspired by and patterned after an Indian killer back in the day named Big Frank to whom, if I may quote the sculptor, 'Killing an occasional Indian was all in a day's work,'" Carpenter said.
Schill acknowledged in a statement that the struggle for racial equality is ongoing.
“There is no question we are living in a moment when our nation is painfully coming to grips with the reality of systemic racism that has been woven into the fabric of our society for generations,” Schill wrote in a statement.
However, he said the removal of the statues was unacceptable. He added that plans had been announced to review the presence of monuments and artwork on campus to determine if any should be taken down.
“I regret that we will no longer have the opportunity for that type of deliberative and inclusive process. Nevertheless, we need to move forward as a community,” he wrote.
For now, the statues are in storage. They won’t be returning to their previous positions on campus, Schill said.
Instead, the university will look to exhibit the statues in a way that provides “appropriate historical context.”
Schill ended his statement by acknowledging that more work needs to be done to recognize and strengthen communities of color.