First things first: Statues are not history books. Nobody will forget the Civil War happened if a statue of a Confederate general is uprooted in Richmond—something that, thanks to the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the world, is finally happening.
But some protestors aren’t waiting for the government to take action. Over the past week, statues commemorating slave-owning historical figures—ones that weren’t disposed of following the 2017 events in Charlottesville, at least—have been defaced and toppled, their destruction symbolic of a populace that would rather not celebrate its country’s long history of white supremacy.
No destruction, however, went more viral than that of Bristol’s bronze tribute to slave trader Edward Colston, who in the 17th century helped transport tens of thousands from Africa to the Americas.
Colston’s statue was torn down with ropes, then rolled down the street and dumped by a cheering crowd into the harbor, where it sank with a massive, satisfying splash. See video of the whole ordeal below.
Meanwhile, Richmond protestors saw to it that another of the city’s monuments to the Confederacy came tumbling down. On Saturday night, a statue of Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham was defaced and torn from its pedestal on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, where it’s sat since 1891. Somebody also pissed on it, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Another Confederate met his maker in Birmingham, Alabama. Charles Linn, a captain in the Confederate Navy was torn down to the cheers of dozens of protestors. It had only been erected in 2013. See video of that below.
Protestors in Brussels weren’t able to uproot a controversial statue of King Leopold II, but it’s been ground zero for many of the city’s Black Lives Matter protests. In his efforts to colonize and exploit the Congo, Leopold II, former King of the Belgians, was responsible for the torture and murder of millions. A new petition calling for the removal of his monuments has garnered tens of thousands of signatures.
Last week, crews in Old Town Alexandria removed a bronze statue of a Confederate named “Appomattox,” and just this morning Louisville officials carted off a 1913 statue of Confederate soldier John Castleman.
And in Philadelphia, after protestors literally hammered on its metal head with a hammer, a monument to former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo, who once urged constituents to “vote white,” was torn down after 22 years on the steps of Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building.
And this is only scratching the surface. More will continue to tumble as a certain viral Twitter thread continues to get more clicks.
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