(Reuters) - Protesters toppled a statue of the president of the Confederacy in the Virginia state capital of Richmond late on Wednesday, the latest U.S. monument to be torn down during nationwide demonstrations demanding an end to racial injustice.
Footage posted on social media showed the statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the pro-slavery Confederate states during the 1861-65 U.S. Civil War, being pulled into a tow truck and hauled away as people cheered. The base of the statue was covered with graffiti.
It stood along Richmond’s Monument Avenue, which is lined with statues of several prominent Confederate figures. The city served as capital of the Confederacy for almost all of the war.
The May 25 killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the global wave of anti-racist protests that followed has reignited a campaign to remove statues and other symbols honoring Confederate leaders.
Many Southerners defend the monuments as tributes to war dead and part of the country’s history, and vigorously oppose their removal despite their association with slavery and racism.
On Monday, a judge in Richmond issued a 10-day injunction against Governor Ralph Northam’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the city.
Earlier on Wednesday in Portsmouth, Virginia, protesters beheaded and defaced statues that were part of the city’s Confederate monument.
A group of protesters also pulled down a statue of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on Wednesday, and a monument to Columbus erected in Richmond in 1927 was vandalized and thrown into a lake on Tuesday.
In the early hours of Wednesday in Boston, the head of a Columbus statue was also removed.
While Columbus was long hailed for opening the New World up to European civilization and settlement, present-day scholars acknowledge a more complicated legacy, including enslavement and subjugation of indigenous people.
A statue of Columbus was vandalized in Miami on Wednesday evening, along with that of fellow explorer Ponce de Leon. Police said seven people were arrested in the incident, which they said grew violent.
Reporting by Maria Caspani and Peter Szekely in New York, Editing by Frank McGurty and Sonya Hepinstall