The death of George Floyd is leading to the removal – by protesters in some cases and city leaders in others – of contentious statues that have riled some residents for decades, if not longer.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25 in Minneapolis. While being arrested, Floyd was held down by a Minneapolis police officer’s knee for more than eight minutes. He was pronounced dead shortly afterward. His death, which was captured on video, sparked widespread protests across the US, with people calling for an end to police brutality against people of color.
Controversial monuments, especially Confederate monuments, have been the subject of nationwide debate, particularly since Dylann Roof killed nine African Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015 in an effort to “start a race war.”
And it flared up again after white nationalists marched in 2017 to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counterprotester was killed amid violent clashes between demonstrators.
Some say they mark history and honor heritage. Others argue they are racist symbols of America’s dark legacy of slavery. While some cities have already made efforts to remove them, others have passed laws to protect them.
Here’s a look at some of the monuments that have been removed over the past few weeks.
On July 1, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the immediate removal of several confederate statues in a video to the public.
“These statues, although symbolic, have cast a shadows on the dreams of our children of color,” Stoney said. “Let me be clear, removing these monuments is not a solution to the deeply embedded racial injustices in our city and nation, but is a down payment.”
The work started with the statue of General Stonewall Jackson, according to CNN affiliate WWBT.
The mayor said all of the statues that are being removed over the next several days will be put into storage for now.
“Jefferson Davis was a racist & traitor who fled our city as his troops carried out orders to burn it to the ground,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said in a tweet June 11. “He never deserved to be up on that pedestal. July 1, we will begin the process the state requires to remove these monuments to the Old Richmond of a Lost Cause.”
He asked for the sake of public safety that the community allow the city to legally take down the remaining statues professionally.
“I will push for us to waste no time on this and to make it happen as soon as possible,” Stoney said in his tweet. “Richmond, we will finish the job of removing these antiquated symbols of racism and hate.”
It came a day after protesters vandalized and tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus using ropes at Byrd Park.
Charleston, South Carolina
Crews in Charleston removed a statue of politician John C. Calhoun from its pedestal in Marion Square on June 24.
Calhoun, a former vice president of the United States and US senator, is known for defending slavery and owning about 80 slaves himself. A Clemson University biography called him an ardent believer in white supremacy.
Charleston City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution for the removal on Tuesday night, according to CNN affiliate WCSC.
The top of a Confederate monument in downtown Norfolk was removed by the city, according to an online statement.