A Portland Park statue of an enslaved Black member of the Lewis and Clark expedition has been vandalized for the second time.
Inside Edition reports that the statue of York in Portland’s Mt. Tabor Park was found toppled, with the bust torn from its pedestal. The statue, which was vandalized at night, was discovered after a visitor notified a park maintenance worker on Wednesday morning (July 28).
York was an enslaved man in his 30s owned by William Clark, one of the men who led the famed expedition of Western land acquired by the U.S. by the Louisiana Purchase in the early 1800s. York was crucial to the expedition’s success by hunting for badly needed food, helping discover new plants and animals, and smoothing relations with Indigenous Americans.
When York requested his freedom after the expedition, Clark refused and “gave him a severe trouncing,” according to the Washington Post. Clark’s treatment of York was unknown until the discovery of Clark’s letters to his brother in 1988.
According to KOIN, the statue of York first appeared in Mt. Tabor Park in February. It replaced a statue of Harvey Scott, a longtime editor of The Oregonian who opposed women’s suffrage, which was previously torn down. It remains unknown who created or placed the bust of York.
Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long said, “The York bust appeared in Mt. Tabor park in February as a happy surprise to Portland Parks & Recreation. Unfortunately, the numerous racist responses to the memorial of a Black man forced to participate in the Corps of Discovery Expedition have not been a surprise.”
She continued, “The latest act of vandalism is incredibly disappointing for me, and I’m sure the majority of Portlanders will miss seeing York at the top of Mt. Tabor.”