Protesters tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus in Virginia’s state capital on Tuesday using ropes to topple the monument before burning an American flag atop it and dragging it into a nearby lake. In Boston, a statue of the 15th Century explorer was beheaded overnight.
The vandalism comes one day after a judge temporarily blocked Gov. Ralph Northan’s order to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee that stands on Monument Avenue in Richmond.
The targeting of Confederate statues and monuments has gained momentum in the wake of nationwide protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The Hill reported on the takedown of the Columbus statue in Virginia:
The 8-foot memorial to the explorer in Richmond, Va., was pulled down with ropes and dragged roughly 200 yards to nearby Landing at Foundation Lake, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It was also reportedly briefly lit on fire.
The base of the statue was covered in graffiti and protesters held signs reading “This land is Powhatan land” and “Columbus represents genocide.”
A makeshift headstone poster was also placed in front of the sunken statute in the water that read “Racism. You will not be missed.”
“This continent is built on the blood and the bones of our ancestors, but it is built off the backs and the sweat and the tears and the blood and the bones of Africans,” Vanessa Bolin, a member of the Richmond Indigenous Society, said at the protest. “We’re not here to hijack your movement. We’re here to stand in solidarity.”
“We cannot fight white supremacy without recognizing and uplifting one of its earliest victims on this continent,” Joseph Rogers, another speaker at the protest, said.
The local media outlet WTHR reported the statue was controversial at the time it was erected for a different reason:
The statue had been a fixture at Byrd Park ever since it was erected nearly a century ago. At that time, the monument was controversial due to anti-Italian and anti-Catholic sentiment, which prevented it from being placed alongside Confederate figures on Monument Avenue.
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