The statue of Teddy Roosevelt that stands in front of the main entrance to the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West in Manhattan, June 21, 2014. (© Luigi Novi/Wikimedia Commons)

The statue of former president Teddy Roosevelt that previously stood outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York should be melted down or scrapped rather than moved to a new home, according to a petition signed by various New York academics and artists.

The statue, which depicts Roosevelt riding on horseback with an African American man and Native American man standing alongside, was removed from its position outside the museum in January. The city’s Public Design Commission voted to relocate the statue in June 2021 amid public criticism of the statue as racist, a year after nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.

The statue will be moved to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, which is currently in the planning stages of construction and will be built in Medora, N.D. However, a petition uploaded to Tumblr last month is calling to scrap the statue entirely.

“New Yorkers cannot simply dump their toxic cultural products in other communities,” the petition states. “The city should reject the transfer of its undesirable waste elsewhere. In this case, the monument’s bronze content could be melted down or recycled for a better purpose or simply disposed of.”

The petition, first reported by the New York Post, was started by the left-wing activist group Decolonize This Place. Andrew Ross, an NYU American Studies professor who also helped organize the petition, told the Post that North Dakota Native Americans had not been consulted about the statue’s relocation.

“There are stakeholders here. It’s not just city authorities that really should have a say in this,” Ross said.

The agreement to move the statue came in November, with the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation saying the move could help to “study the nation’s past.”

“The board of the TR Library believes the Equestrian Statue is problematic in its composition. Moreover, its current location denies passersby consent and context,” the foundation said in a statement at the time. “The agreement with the City allows the TR Library to relocate the statue for storage while considering a display that would enable it to serve as an important tool to study the nation’s past.”

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