Preservation and Restoration Commission weighs removal of John Mason statue
The Connecticut State Capitol Preservation and Restoration Commission heard from the public on Nov. 18 on whether to take down the statue of John Mason from the Capitol building in Hartford.
Chairperson Emil “Buddy” Altobello led this meeting.
Mason was a colonial-era war figure who led a massacre of Pequot Indians in the 1600s. Critics said the statue should be removed because of Mason’s involvement in genocide while scholars argued that the statue should remain for educational purposes.
The majority of speakers supported removing the statue, including Shirley “Laughing Woman” Patrick.
Patrick is the vice chairwoman of the Elders Council of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and voiced her support for taking the statue down.
“The bones of our Ancestors, their blood and bones are all over Connecticut. You walk upon their bones, you walk upon their blood, they’re there - during this moment in time, are crying out for something to be done,” Patrick said.
While the majority of speakers supported removing the statue, some wanted it to stay.
One of those voices was from the State Historian Walter Woodward, who said it is important to keep the statue to show different perspectives about the Pequot War.
Another supporter of taking Mason’s statue down, Manisha Sinha, the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History, at the University of Connecticut, says that statues do not preserve history.
“Statues commemorate certain aspects, certain people in our history. This should be really made clear, because we, as historians, write books and articles on history. If you want to learn the history of the Pequot War, settler colonialism, or of Indian dispossession, you have numerous books and articles that have been written, at least since the 1960s on Native American history.”
Several Tribal Elders and educators suggested relocating the statue to a museum, where it could be displayed with more educational context.
The Commission will meet on Dec. 14 to make a final decision.