PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A 120-year-old statue of an elk has been removed from downtown Portland after protesters lit a fire underneath it Wednesday night.
The statue, which sits atop the David P. Thompson Fountain, has been the target of graffiti and fires during the weeks of protests against systemic racism, police brutality and the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
The elk and fountain were donated to the city by one-time mayor David P. Thompson in 1900 to honor elk that once roamed the Willamette Valley., The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. They sit near the Justice Center, the focal point of nightly protests.
According to Portland police, the Regional Arts Council decided the piece needed to be removed for public safety reasons. The fire damaged the stone surrounding the basin around and beneath the elk statue.
The damage to the base was so severe that the statue had to be removed for public safety reasons; RACC was concerned the elk could topple over and injure someone, KGW reported.
Additionally, substantial damage was done to the bathrooms at Lownsdale Square and Chapman Park, police said.
"Engaging in criminal activity including vandalism and property damage is not peaceful demonstration," said Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell. "We ask for the public's help in identifying and sharing information about those responsible, so they can be held accountable."
The elk statue also was damaged during Occupy Portland protests in 2011. Cracks in the antlers were repaired in early 2012.
The statue was commissioned by David Thompson and built by Roland Hinton Perry in 1900.
Anyone with information about vandalism to or around the statue is asked to email CrimeTips@portlandoregon.gov.