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Jackson County legislator wants Andrew Jackson statues removed from Kansas City area courthouses

 A statue of U.S. President Andrew Jackson atop a horse is seen from below. In the background is a concrete building adorned in art-deco stylings. Above the statue a clear blue sky can be seen.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Jackson County is named after the seventh president of the United States. The statue of Andrew Jackson has stood in front of the downtown courthouse since 1949.

Legislators will consider a resolution calling for the statue of President Andrew Jackson in front of county courthouses to be dismantled and stored. Jackson was a slave owner and a supporter of the forced relocation of Native Americans. A county-wide vote to remove the statue failed in 2020.

The Jackson County legislature will consider another attempt to dismantle the statute of U.S. President Andrew Jackson that has sat in front of the downtown Jackson County Courthouse since 1949. A resolution introduced Monday by Legislator Manny Abarca calls for the county executive to award a contract to remove the downtown statue and a smaller one outside of the Historic Truman Courthouse in Independence.

The resolution recalls that Jackson, the seventh President of the United States and namesake of Jackson County, "owned hundreds of slaves" and "actively worked to silence abolitionists." Jackson was also largely responsible for the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The move resulted in the forced relocation of many Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi River. About 4,000 Cherokees died during the march westward, which became known as "the Trail of Tears."

"It is in the moral interest of Jackson County to immediately create separation from these moments in our nation’s history through the removal of statues or monuments associated with them so as to not accidentally bestow honor on individuals who were engaged in the genocide of indigenous groups or proponents of slavery," the resolution says.

The first major effort to remove the Jackson statue was in 2019, but the legislature decided to put it to a county-wide vote. It failed when 59% of voters decided to keep the statute in place. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker led a subsequent effort to place a plaque on the statue putting Jackson in proper historical context.

Baker recently returned to the controversy in a blog post last month where she recounted a trip to Alamance County, North Carolina where she saw a monument to a fallen Confederate soldier in front of the county courthouse. The plaque praised Confederate troops for their "valor" and "patriotism." This reminded her of the Jackson statue she sees daily at the courthouse.

"I was sickened when I read the false narrative inscribed on their monument," Baker wrote.

She also wondered, four years after adding the plaque to the Jackson statue, if that is enough.

"I’m torn as to whether placing the plaque on the statue and leaving it in front of the Downtown courthouse was the best solution," she wrote.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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