George Floyd protests: Demonstrators topple statue of Christopher Columbus in Byrd Park, throw it into lake

The statue-vandalizing acts continued in the US as the sculpture of the 15th-century explorer was pulled down with the help of three ropes


                            George Floyd protests: Demonstrators topple statue of Christopher Columbus in Byrd Park, throw it into lake
(Getty Images)

The statue-vandalizing movement in the US in the wake of the protests against the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 witnessed an ugly episode on Tuesday, June 9, when a sculpture of Christopher Columbus was brought down by demonstrators. The incident happened around 8:30 pm in Byrd Park in Richmond, Virginia, where protesters used three ropes to pull down the statue of the 15th-century explorer credited for the discovery of the New World. 

The protesters did not stop after bringing down the statue. They pushed it into the Fountain Lake in the park. One of the protesters, who admitted to aiding the statue’s pulling down, said the act was not planned but a build-up over time following chants of "tear it down", according to reports. It was also reported that the protesters celebrated with fireworks after bringing down Columbus' statue.

A number of statues and obelisks are being pulled down across the US amid the anti-racist protests. The act in Byrd Park took place just days after the statue of 19th-century Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham was brought down in Monroe Park, also in Virginia, on June 6. 

A man walks past a statue of Christopher Columbus that was vandalized with red paint at Union Station on October 14, 2002, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Earlier in the evening, demonstrators were seen walking down Arthur Ashe Boulevard while heading for Byrd Park. A sign reading “Racism, You will not be missed” was seen floating in the water of the lake near Columbus' statue. 8News reported that no policemen were seen at the site even around 11 pm although a large crowd assembled at the park after the statue was toppled. City Parks and Recreation confirmed to 8News that the statue belonged to the city of Richmond. 

Columbus statue was defaced in San Francisco last October

It is not the first time a statue of Columbus has drawn the ire of protesters in the US. In October last year, one of his statues in San Francisco was vandalized just a day before the federal holiday commemorating his arrival in the Americans in 1492. The statue at the foot of Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill was covered in red paint. The base of the statue was marked with graffiti saying “Destroy all monuments of genocide” and “Kill all colonizers.”

The North Beach News posted an image of the defaced statue and one commenter wrote: “Well done. Columbus deserves no better”. There have been several other instances where Columbus' statue has been vandalized in the US over the years. Columbus is historically accused of committing several atrocities and brutalities.

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