Elk Statue removed after fires set by protesters damage base
Over the past month of near-nightly protests in Portland, the Elk Fountain statue near the Justice Center has been the scene of a number of clashes. Over the past two nights, protesters set fires in and around it.
On Thursday, officials removed the familiar statue from its long-time perch in downtown in the middle of Main Street between Chapman and Lownsdale Squares due to concern it could topple over from the damage.
KOIN 6 News watched the 9-foot tall statue leave the area on a flat-bed truck shortly after noon.
The statue, also known as the David P. Thompson Fountain, itself was not burned in an early Thursday fire, nor was the fountain — but an area right next to it is now filled with ashes. The statue is also covered in graffiti.
Officials said the fire so severely damaged the stone surrounding the basin around and beneath the elk statue that it needed to be removed for safety reasons.
"There is concern the elk statue could topple over and injure someone," police said in a statement.
Authorities said there was also substantial damage done to the bathrooms at Lownsdale Square and Chapman Park.
Police are investigating the vandalism.
"Engaging in criminal activity including vandalism and property damage is not peaceful demonstration," said 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 sculpture was donated to the city in 1900. It has been designated a Portland historic landmark. The statue, the second major piece in Portland after the Skidmore Fountain in Old Town, was a gift from former Portland Mayor David P. Thompson in 1900.
The bronze statue has survived 120 years of wear and tear. In 1994, it received major renovations and recently there was an overhaul of the bronze surface.
There are about 170 outdoor public sculptures in Multnomah County, all of them cared for by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can find their story here.
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