SPOKANE, Wash. — A Citizens’ Advisory Council (CAC) started a petition for the removal of the 1906 John R. Monaghan statue near Monroe and Riverside, in downtown Spokane.
The CAC started the petition titled "Remove the Racist John R. Monaghan Statue from Downtown Spokane, WA," in October 2021. Their goal for the petition was to reach over 1,000 signatures and then send a formal request to the City Council.
The petition letter addressed to the Spokane City Council members asks for the removal of the statue. In the letter, members of the CCA urge the city council to remove the monument , saying that it perpetuates racism and inflicts pain toward members of the community.
The John R. Monaghan statue's plaque reads, “During the retreat of the allied forces from the deadly fire and overwhelming number of the savage foe, he alone stood the fearful onslaught and sacrificed his life defending a wounded comrade Lieutenant Philip V. Lansdale United States Navy.”
Monaghan was born in Chewelah before living in Spokane. He was an officer in the U.S. Navy, who died near Apia, Samoa in 1899 while he and other sailors were commanded to destroy Samoan villages and kill civilian populations.
On the petition, CAC said that although most people who pass by the downtown statue are unlikely to know who Monaghan was, the Pacific Islander community around the world knows he is a reminder of thousands of innocent men, women and children who were brutally murdered.
"It stands as a monument to the unprovoked, antagonistic colonial attacks by the United States on Sāmoa and Sāmoan civilians, and to the racist perceptions that Americans had of them at that time. The impacts have been deep and lasting," the petition said.
Members of the CAC said in the petition that the Monaghan statue and its pediment are problematic because the statue commemorates a dishonorable war and uses degrading language. The CAC added that the statue continues to inflict harm and pain to the Sāmoan, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities of Spokane.
"In solidarity with our Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community members, we call for the immediate removal of the statue and the pediment, and we ask, with deep humility, for the full support of the Spokane City Council in these efforts as we move closer toward reconciliation and healing together," the petition said.
On Tuesday, Gonzaga University hosted a panel discussion called "Advancing Removal of the John R. Monaghan Statue: A Movement in Solidarity with Pasifika to Combat Racism," at the Hemmingson Auditorium in support of the Pacific Islander community.
KREM 2 reached out via email to the CAC group asking for when the petition will be sent out to the City Council. We have yet to receive any updates.
As of Wednesday, April 6, the online petition to remove the statue has received more than 1,700 signatures.