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Jefferson Davis statue torn down in Richmond, Virginia

Associated Press • Jun 11, 2020 at 9:35 AM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Protesters pulled down a more than century-old statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the former capital of the Confederacy, adding it to the list of rebel monuments damaged as demonstrations continued following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

The bronze statue, which stood before a colonnade along Richmond's fame Monument Avenue, lay on its back with dark paint on its face and an arm outstretched after demonstrators pulled it down late Wednesday.

Police were on the scene and videos on social media showed a crowd cheering as the statue, installed by a Confederate heritage group during the days of legalized segregation in the South, was towed away.

The Davis likeness, located a few blocks away from a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that the state is trying to remove, wasn't the only Confederate memorial to come down within a few hours in Virginia.

About 80 miles (130 kilometers) away, protesters in Portsmouth beheaded and then pulled down four statues that were part of a Confederate monument, according to news outlets.

Efforts to tear one of the statues down began around 8:20 p.m., but the rope they were using snapped, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

The crowd was frustrated by the Portsmouth City Council's decision to put off moving the monument. They switched to throwing bricks from the post that held the plaque they had pulled down as they initially worked to bring down the statue.

The Pilot reported that they then started to dismantle the monument one piece at a time as a brass band played in the streets and other protesters danced.

A protester in his 30s was hit in the head as the monument fell, causing him to lose consciousness, Portsmouth NAACP Vice President Louie Gibbs told the newspaper. The crowd quieted as the man was taken to a hospital. His condition was not immediately clear.

A flag tied to the monument was lit on fire, and the flames burned briefly at the base of one of the statues.

Demonstrators have been removing monuments they see as symbols of the United States' ingrained racism since national protests began over the death of Floyd, who died after a police officer in Minneapolis pressed down on his neck with a leg for nearly 9 minutes.

While some people say such monuments are important reminders of history, opponents contend the tributes inappropriately glorify people who led a rebellion that sought to uphold slavery.

A statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond was torn down by protesters, set on fire and then submerged into a lake on Tuesday. News outlets reported the Columbus statue was toppled less than two hours after protesters gathered in the city's Byrd Park chanting for the statue to be taken down.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam last week ordered the removal of an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which is four blocks away from where the Davis statue stood. A judge on Monday issued an injunction preventing officials from removing the monuments for the next 10 days.

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