Protesters toppled a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday night, as demonstrators across the country continued to target symbols of white supremacy after the death of George Floyd.
Demonstrators knocked down the statue at about 11 p.m., according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and local news reports showed photographs of it lying on the street, with the police nearby before a tow truck carted it away.
The statue was among a number of prominent Confederate monuments that had stood on Monument Avenue in Richmond, which was once the capital of the Confederacy.
It came down one week after Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond said that he would propose an ordinance to remove all four Confederate monuments that the city controls along Monument Avenue. Stoney said he would introduce the bill July 1, when a new state law goes into effect giving local governments the authority to remove the monuments on their own.
“Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy – it is filled with diversity and love for all – and we need to demonstrate that,” Stoney said in a statement.
The mayor’s press office and the Richmond Police did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment late Wednesday.
In 2018, a commission appointed by Stoney recommended that the Davis monument be removed and replaced with a new statue. “Of all the statues, this one is most unabashedly Lost Cause in its design and sentiment,” the commissioners wrote. They also noted that Davis was not from Richmond or Virginia.
The sculpture was unveiled June 3, 1907, and depicted Davis giving the speech in which he resigned from the U.S. Senate, according to the commission. On a column behind Davis sat an allegorical figure, Vindicatrix, based on the word vindicate, which reinforced the mythology of the Lost Cause, the commission said.
The statue came down amid a national reckoning over racist imagery and emblems fuelled by the protests that have erupted after the death of Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, who was killed after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Across the country, at least 10 monuments to Confederates or other controversial historical figures have been removed, and people have challenged similar monuments in more than 20 cities.
Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia said he planned to order that the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue be removed. An administration official said the Lee monument was the only Confederate statue in Richmond over which the state had control.
Just hours before the Davis monument was taken down Wednesday, NASCAR announced that it would ban the Confederate battle flag from its events and properties.
Last Friday, the Marine Corps issued detailed directives about removing and banning public displays of the Confederate battle flag at its installations. And the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, last week ordered the removal of a Confederate statue from a public park
In Richmond this month, graffiti was scrawled on the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the building also burned for a time. Statues of the Confederate generals J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson and Lee, all of which stand on the city’s Monument Avenue, were marked.
On Tuesday evening, a statue of Christopher Columbus was torn down and tossed into a lake in a Richmond city park where protesters had gathered for a demonstration in support of indigenous peoples.
“We stand in solidarity with black and brown communities that are tired of being murdered by an out-of-control, militarized and violent police force,” the Richmond Indigenous Society, which took part in the rally, said in a statement Wednesday.