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Oregon monument to Black hero of Lewis and Clark trip defaced

by The Associated Press | June 10, 2021 at 2:53 p.m.
This Thursday, June 10, 2021 photo shows a statue commemorating York, an enslaved Black member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, after being defaced in Portland, Ore. (Catalina Gaitán/The Oregonian via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. — A monument commemorating York, an enslaved Black member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was defaced this week in Portland.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that while the bust itself was unmarked, symbols and words, including “love not hate,” were spray-painted in purple lettering onto the gray pedestal underneath. A plaque describing York had also been spray-painted over and then removed, leaving behind a blank square framed in purple.

The bust mysteriously appeared in February on a pedestal in a park in Southeast Portland where a statue of Harvey Scott, a well-known conservative and longtime editor of The Oregonian who opposed women’s suffrage, stood until it was torn down. It still isn’t clear who created or placed the bust of York.

After the Lewis and Clark Expedition was over, everyone but York was rewarded with money and land. York demanded freedom as a reward for his services on the expedition, Historian Stephn Ambrose wrote. But Clark refused.

Clark later claimed to a friend that he’d freed York. Historians haven’t been able to verify that.

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