Protesters brought down a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia Wednesday night. The eight-foot statue, which stood on Monument Avenue, was set to be removed in a few months, but protesters ignored calls from local officials to let them remove Confederate statues safely. George Floyd's death on May 25 and the following protests on racial inequality have led to a renewed push for the removal of Confederate monuments in recent weeks.
Demonstrators removed the statue of one of the Confederacy's main figures by tying ropes around its legs and pulling it down from its pedestal. The crowd cheered as the statue was towed away and there were no reports of arrests, reports The Associated Press. The statue was unveiled in 1907, more than 40 years after the Civil War ended.
Protesters in Richmond have pulled down a statue of Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy pic.twitter.com/Myl0UfDSNI— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) June 11, 2020
After the monument was taken down, residents came to see what was left Thursday morning. A bulldozer later came to pick up parts still littered in the streets. Verlon Vrana told the Richmond Times-Dispatch it was "about time" for the statue to be removed. "I think our politicians have been kind of mealy-mouthed and prevaricating, and so eventually people just took it into their own hands," she said.
State and local officials in Richmond hoped the statue could be pulled down safely. A city panel recommended the Davis statue be pulled down two years ago, and just last week, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and the City Council reiterated that four city-controlled Confederate statues would be removed. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said a state-owned Robert E. Lee statue would be removed as soon as possible. However, a judge issued a temporary injunction stopping the removal for at least 10 days, citing an 1890 deed, reports the Virginia Pilot. Northam's office said he is still "committed to removing this divisive symbol from Virginia's capital city."
On Thursday, Stoney issued another plea to protesters on Twitter, asking them to refrain from pulling down statues "to prevent any potential harm that could result from attempts to remove them without professional experience." However, Stoney did not condemn protesters for pulling down the Davis statue, saying Davis "never deserved to be up on that pedestal." He also called Davis a "racist & traitor."
Protesters in Portsmouth, Virginia also vandalized a Confederate monument Wednesday night. Mayor John Rowe said the police "made the right choice" to not interfere with protesters, reports WAVY. "We can repair property; we cannot bring back a life that is lost in these demonstrations," Rowe said. One man was seriously injured when one of the monument's soldier statues fell on him.