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Mayor Farrell calls for removal of ‘Early Days’ statue

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The Arts Commission on Monday gave final approval for the removal of the “Early Days” statue, which is part of the Pioneer Monument at San Francisco’s Civic Center. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Mayor Mark Farrell has joined in calls for San Francisco to remove a controversial Civic Center statue depicting a Native American in a demeaning manner, calling it a symbol of oppression.

In a letter sent to the Historic Preservation Commission Feb. 14, Farrell said the commission should allow the removal of the “Early Days” statue, which is part of the larger 1894 Pioneer Monument outside of the Main Public Library.

“We should not condone symbols of oppression on our City streets,” Farrell wrote. “This statue does not reflect our values and should not remain in the heart of our city.”

The commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the removal

Farrell added in the letter, “Before his passing, Mayor Lee publicly called for the removal of this statue and I am proud to carry this effort forward.”

The statue depicts a Native American seated on the ground, with a mission padre and a vaquero standing over him. The statue represents California history “from a Euro-American point of view,” according to Arts Commission documents, and has long drawn criticism from Native American residents and advocates as symbol “of the degradation and genocide of Native Americans.”

A staff report recommends the Historic Preservation Commission allow the removal of the statue. The Arts Commission applied for permission for the removal, after previously voting to initiate steps to remove the statue.

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