Pacific Islander community rallies for Spokane to tear down Monaghan statue

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Pacific Islander community and allies marched throughout Riverfront Park Saturday, demanding the city to take down a statue in downtown Spokane.

“This rally is crucial for creating visibility for native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, especially today. Our Samoan communities which have been affected by the issues that we’re here today,” said Kiana McKenna, the director of services for the Pacific Islander Community Association of Eastern Washington.

That statue in question is of John R. Monaghan, which sits right in front of the Spokane Club on Riverside and Monroe. Critics of the statue say its presence and what is depicted on it bring pain to Pacific Island communities.

Monaghan was a sailor from Spokane. The statue went up in 1906 honoring him after he was killed in an attack in 1899. However, in that attack, he and other sailors were told to destroy Samoan villages and kill the islanders. Advocates at the rally said it included children, women and the elderly.

The Samoans surrendered and their islands were divided into different countries, including the United States.

The statue also calls Samoans “savages,” which is why a Citizens’ Advisory Council started a petition to remove it.

Advocates are calling for it to be brought down and want to remind people of the racism they feel is happening in local communities.

“This is really to continue to build the collaboration between Black and Indigenous people and asking for support from the wider community around ways they can support and really undo the racism that continue to harm Indigenous people and Black lives,” said Joseph Seia, with Pacific Islander Community Association of Eastern Washington.

Advocates hope to remove the statue through the petition, but a Spokane City Council spokesperson says it might not be able to go through city council members. Instead, it could to the city administrator.

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