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Statue of California Pioneer John Sutter Removed After Vandalism

SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) -- A statue commemorating one of California's most prominent historical figures has been removed from outside a Sacramento hospital.

John Sutter Statue Removed
John Sutter statue removed in Sacramento. (CBS)

The statue of John Sutter at Sutter Medical Center near Sutter's Fort State Historic Park had recently been the target of vandalism.

Several dozen people cheered as a work crew lifted the statue off its pedestal on Monday in the latest reckoning of historical figures being removed from public display.

A 19th-century European settler and pioneer, John Sutter founded Sutter's Fort trading post in what would eventually become California's capital city. His regional namesakes include many landmarks, schools, a mountain range and even a county.

"OK, he's Sutter, but he's a real son of a b——," said Frank Condon, a playwright who was walking to a doctor's appointment. He had marveled hours earlier that it was still standing and wondered why it hadn't been taken down.

John Sutter had laid claim to land on the American River in Coloma in the Sierra foothills. James Marshall, a carpenter, was building a mill there for Sutter when he discovered gold in 1848.

The two tried to keep it a secret but word got out and men flocked to the foothills in search of their fortune.

"Out of respect for some community members' viewpoints and in the interest of public safety for our patients and staff, we are removing the John Sutter statue that was originally donated to Sutter General Hospital," a Sutter Health spokesman said in a statement.

Sutter Health did not say whether it was considering removing Sutter's name from the nonprofit hospital system.

Ashwut Rodriguez, a California Indian from Sacramento, spit on the statue of Sutter after it was loaded onto a flatbed and tied down.

"This is only a Band Aid on a broken arm but we can't celebrate or consider anything until you stop celebrating these evil people," said Rodriguez, 42, who came out with his family and young children to watch.

The statue will be kept in storage until a decision is made where it will go, Sutter Health spokesman Gary Zavoral said.

Sutter himself did not benefit from the gold rush and his empire crumbled after the discovery was made.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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