Protesters topple statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis in Richmond

Protesters topple statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis in Richmond
© Associated Press

A statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis was toppled by protesters in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday night, as demonstrations in response to the police killing of George Floyd continued nationwide. 

Demonstrators across the U.S. have targeted a number of Confederate statues and other monuments they believe are symbols of racism following the death of Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Video from Wednesday night showed the statue of Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, lying on its back along Monument Avenue in Richmond. Demonstrators tore the monument off its pedestal shortly before 11 p.m., according to local news reports.

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A crowd could be heard hollering and cheering as a crew arrived to haul the monument away. Spray paint was tagged throughout the area surrounding the statue. 

The toppling of the Davis statue represented the third time in less than a week that protesters tore down a monument in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy.

On Saturday, protesters pulled the statue of Gen. Williams Carter Wickham from its pedestal in Monroe Park. Demonstrators on Tuesday pulled down an 8-foot memorial to Christopher Columbus and dragged it to nearby Landing at Foundation Lake. 

Protesters held signs reading “This land is Powhatan land” and “Columbus represents genocide" while targeting the monument. 

The toppling of monuments hasn't been confined to just Richmond.

In Portsmouth, Va., located about 100 miles away, protesters on Wednesday night reportedly pulled down four statues that were part of a Confederate monument. 

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The events came after demonstrators grew frustrated by the Portsmouth City Council’s failure to expeditiously move the monument, The Associated Press reported.

The Davis statue targeted on Wednesday night in Richmond is located along a residential street that is home to five Confederate monuments.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) has announced that he will introduce a measure to remove all the street’s Confederate monuments that sit on city property, which include Davis, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.

The measure will be introduced July 1, when a new state law allowing cities to remove the monuments goes into effect.

Stoney on Thursday called Davis "a racist and traitor" who "never deserved to be up on that pedestal."

The mayor urged the Richmond community to let the city remove the remaining statues in order to prevent any injuries.

"I will push for us to waste no time on this and to make it happen as soon as possible," he said on Twitter. "Richmond, we will finish the job of removing these antiquated symbols of racism and hate."

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced earlier this month that the state-owned statue of Lee would be removed from its perch on the street. However, a state judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked Northam's order in wake of a lawsuit filed over the decision.

Updated at 1:49 p.m.