A DeKalb County judge last week ordered the relocation of the 30-foot obelisk at Decatur Square after the city argued it’d become a threat to public safety during recent protests. He ordered it removed by midnight June 26 and placed in storage until further notice.
As a large crane pulled down the obelisk just before midnight Thursday, people chanted, “Take it down! Take it down!” Others applauded.
“The Confederate obelisk has become an increasingly frequent target of graffiti and vandalism, a figurative lightning rod for friction among citizens, and a potential catastrophe that could happen at any time if individuals attempt to forcibly remove or destroy it,” Judge Clarence Seeliger said.
The point of the removal is not to prevent its public display but “instead is an appropriate measure to abate a public nuisance and protect the obelisk,” he added.
Floyd’s death during an arrest by a White police officer ignited protests against racism and police brutality. The 46-year-old Black man died on May 25 in Minneapolis in an incident captured on video.
Protesters in some cases and city leaders in others have taken down contentious statues, which some people say mark history and honor heritage while others argue they are racist symbols of America’s dark legacy of slavery. While some cities have made efforts to remove them, others have passed laws to protect them.
Just this month alone, a series of statues have been removed, including Christopher Columbus, another controversial figure in US history. Some Christopher Columbus statues have been tampered with – one thrown into a lake, one beheaded, and another pulled to the ground.
Others statues removed this month include:
Virginia: A Confederate monument in downtown Norfolk and a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond.
Kentucky: In Louisville, the John Breckenridge Castleman monument, which is a statue of a Confederate soldier in the heart of downtown.
Florida: Crews in downtown Jacksonville took down a 122-year-old statue and plaque that honored fallen Confederate soldiers. Mayor Lenny Curry also announced that all Confederate monuments citywide will be removed. This includes three monuments and eight historical markers. “If our history prevents us from reaching the full potential of our future, then we need to take action,” Curry said.
Tennessee: In Nashville, a controversial statue of Edward Carmack, a former US senator and newspaper owner known for attacking civil rights advocates like Ida B. Wells, was carried away from the city’s Capitol grounds.
Other states removed controversial statues last month, including a 115-year-old monument yanked down during a protest in Birmingham, Alabama.
CNN’s Devon Sayers, Alisha Ebrahimji and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report