Exterior of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in...

Exterior of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola. This government building houses the offices of the Nassau County Executive. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Monday the towering bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt outside county headquarters in Mineola, will "stay right where it is."

Curran made the statement a day after the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan said it would remove a sculpture of Roosevelt, depicted on horseback and flanked by an African man and a Native American man.

For years activists have said the statue for promotes racial discrimination and colonialism. The statue has stood in front of the entrance to the museum since 1940.

The decision by the museum was part of a cultural reckoning with racism in the weeks after George Floyd's killing in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last month. 

Curran said in a statement Monday that Nassau's own statue of Roosevelt, who lived in Oyster Bay, would not be moved. Nor would the name of the building, the Theodore Roosevelt Executive Legislative Building, be changed, she said.

"President Theodore Roosevelt was a son of Nassau County whose boldness of vision and significant accomplishments still set the standard for great American leadership," Curran said in a statement.

"Teddy Roosevelt established the United States as an enduring world power, introduced consumer protection as a critical function of government, pioneered our national park system and the cause of environmental conservation," she said.

"There will be no change to the name of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building, and the statue erected in his honor will stay right where it is."

Spokesman Mike Fricchione said Curran decided to issue a statement to make her position "crystal clear."

Fricchione continued: "The decision in New York City has recently sparked a debate on Theodore Roosevelt's great legacy in this country, so County Executive Curran wanted to make her position crystal clear."

In 2002, former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, now a Democratic congressman from Glen Cove, announced that the old Nassau County Courthouse would be renamed for Roosevelt, who had helped lay the cornerstone for the building in 1900 as governor of New York.

The statue outside the legislative and executive building is by sculptor Paul Manship, who replicated his 17-foot statue of Roosevelt on Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River.

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