Jackson, Mississippi, will remove a bronze statue of former President Andrew Jackson from City Hall grounds, the City Council voted Tuesday.
Elected officials of Mississippi’s capital city voted 5-1 to relocate the monument honoring its namesake. Councilman Ashby Foote, the only Republican on the council, dissented, according to NBC affiliate WLBT in Jackson.
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba, a Democrat, said the vote will help “divorce” the name of the city from “the legacy of a brutal owner of enslaved people who was instrumental in initiating the Trail of Tears against indigenous people.”
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“While removing a statue does little to change our condition as oppressed people, we should not have to constantly encounter the likenesses of those who profited off of the blood, sweat, & despair of our ancestors or see them immortalized as honorable,” the mayor said in a statement.
Foote explained why he voted against taking down the statue, saying “the whole idea of tearing down historical statues and monuments is generally a bad idea,” according to the Clarion Ledger.
The Jackson statue was built in 1968 and dedicated in 1972, according to reports. The City Council said it would determine the next steps for it, though one council member said it would likely be relocated to a museum.
The city’s decision comes at a time when many communities and states are grappling with what to do with statues honoring slave owners and confederate leaders and soldiers. Mississippi was also engulfed in a debate over its state flag, which included a Confederate battle emblem, and led state lawmakers last month to vote to eliminate the emblem and redesign the flag.
Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, was a slave owner who ordered the Trail of Tears under the Indian Removal Act. Thousands of Indigenous people, expelled from their ancestral land in the Southeast, died on a treacherous journey to land to which they were forcibly relocated west of the Mississippi.
President Donald Trump has expressed admiration for Jackson, who was a populist, including during a 2017 visit to the Hermitage, Jackson’s plantation near Nashville, Tennessee. Jackson owned about 150 slaves at the time of his death, according to his former plantation’s website.
On June 22, protesters defaced a statue of Jackson in Lafayette Square outside the White House as they tried to topple it. Five days later, the Justice Department announced it was charging four men in federal court for attempting to take down the statue.
“The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed,” Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin said in a statement.