Statue of Hannah Duston Again the Target of Vandals; Monument the Current Focus of Task Force

The statue of Hannah Duston, clad in a blue plastic tarp, was vandalized for the second time in a year and a half. (Mike Jarvis photograph for WHAV News.)

It wasn’t a raincoat.

Downtown residents and visitors took notice of the statue of Hannah Duston clad in a blue plastic tarp as raindrops fell Friday. The statue, for the second time in a year and a half, was covered with red paint.

Haverhill Police Chief Robert P. Pistone said the vandal struck sometime between Wednesday night and early Thanksgiving morning. He confirmed the city has cameras in the area and police are reviewing video in the course of their investigation.

Red paint remained visible on the base of the statue Friday in Grand Army of the Republic Park.

Tensions over certain historical statues with possible racist connotations rose nationwide last year following the murder of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The statue, erected in 1879, commemorates Duston’s escape from the Abenaki tribe who had taken her prisoner and is engraved with the phrase “pursued by savages.”

During August of 2020, the statue was similarly covered in red paint, which was cleaned by the city’s Public Works Department.

Haverhill’s Native American Commemorative Task Force, headed by Daniel Speers, recently went to work in an attempt to provide equal recognition of the city’s indigenous people. Haverhill city councilors rejected requests to remove or relocate the statue, preferring a compromise to add to messages presented.

Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to contact Haverhill Police at 978-373-1212.

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