American University Removes Controversial Statue of Man Convicted of Killing FBI Agents
By Steve Neavling
American University is removing a controversial statue of a Native American activist who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1977.
The decision to remove the statue of Leonard Peltier came after the president of the FBI agents association urged the university to take down the work of art because it was offensive.
Many Native Americans believe Peltier was wrongly convicted and sentenced to two life terms.
The university released the following statement:
“American University strongly supports the mission of museums to present thought provoking art to inform and educate. Within the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, we have hosted numerous exhibits of political and sometimes controversial art.
The decision to host the Peltier statue required a more thorough assessment of the implications of placing the piece in a prominent, public space outside the museum. With the benefit of a fuller review, we have made a decision to remove the piece from this location.
The subject matter and placement of the piece improperly suggested that American University has assumed an advocacy position of clemency for Mr. Peltier, when no such institutional position has been taken. Further, the nature and location of the piece called into question our ability to honor our responsibilities to ensure the security of the art and the safety of our community.
The AU Museum has offered to work with the artist to find an alternative organization that would be willing to exhibit the art. We affirm our commitment to the AU Museum and will ensure that its mission is fully supported in the Katzen Arts Center.”
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