(CNN)The death of George Floyd is leading to the removal — by protesters in some cases and city leaders in others — of contentious statues that have riled some residents for decades, if not longer.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on May 25 in Minneapolis. While being arrested, Floyd was held down by a Minneapolis police officer’s knee for more than eight minutes. He was pronounced dead shortly after. His death, which was captured on video, sparked widespread protests across the US, with people calling for an end to police brutality against people of color. Controversial monuments, especially Confederate monuments, have been the subject of nationwide debate, particularly since Dylann Roof killed nine African Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015 in an effort to “start a race war.”And it flared up again after white nationalists marched in 2017 to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counterprotester was killed amid violent clashes between demonstrators.Some say they mark history and honor heritage. Others argue they are racist symbols of America’s dark legacy of slavery. While some cities have already made efforts to remove them, others have passed laws to protect them.Read MoreHere’s a look at some of the monuments that have been removed over the last few weeks.
Richmond, VirginiaThe statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis is splattered with paint after it was toppled June 10 in Richmond.A crowd of protesters in Richmond brought down the statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, on Wednesday night, according to CNN affiliate WRIC.”Jefferson Davis was a racist & traitor who fled our city as his troops carried out orders to burn it to the ground,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said in a tweet Thursday morning. “He never deserved to be up on that pedestal. July 1, we will begin the process the state requires to remove these monuments to the Old Richmond of a Lost Cause.”He asked for the sake of public safety that the community allow the city to legally take down the remaining statues professionally. “I will push for us to waste no time on this and to make it happen as soon as possible,” Stoney said in his tweet. “Richmond, we will finish the job of removing these antiquated symbols of racism and hate.” This comes a day after protesters vandalized and tore down a statue of Christoper Columbus using ropes at Byrd Park.Louisville, KentuckyThe John Breckenridge Castleman monument, a statue of a Confederate soldier in the heart of downtown, was removed Monday, according to an online statement from Mayor Greg Fischer.Fischer initially announced plans to remove the Castleman monument in August 2018. After a two-year effort to move the statue, a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge said Friday that the city was able to move the Castleman monument.”We all agree with the report’s finding that our city must not maintain statues that serve as validating symbols for racist or bigoted ideology — that’s why we relocated the Confederate statue near the University of Louisville,” Fischer said in 2016.
In announcing his decision to move the Castleman statue and another Confederate soldier statue in 2018, Fischer rejected the idea that moving them was an effort to erase history. “Moving these statues,” he said, “allows us to examine our history in a new context that more accurately reflects the reality of the day, a time when the moral deprivation of slavery is clear.”The statue will eventually make its way to Cave Hill Cemetery, where Castleman is buried, according to the online statement.Jacksonville, FloridaPlaques in honor of Confederates on the base of a monument in Hemming Park.Crews in Hemming Park in downtown Jacksonville on Tuesday morning took down a 122-year-old statue and plaque that honored fallen Confederate soldiers, according to CNN affiliate WJAX.On Friday, the Jacksonville Jaguars marched from TIAA Bank Field to the sheriff’s office, where wide receiver Chris Conley made a seven minute speech in which he talked about the removal of the monument.During a peaceful protest Tuesday on the steps of City Hall, Mayor Lenny Curry announced that all Confederate monuments citywide will be removed. This includes three monuments and eight historical markers, the mayor’s office told CNN in a statement.
Hear the message from @FlightConley on the steps of @JSOPIO ⤵ pic.twitter.com/CnbD7w4Fkc
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) June 5, 2020
“If our history prevents us from reaching the full potential of our future, then we need to take action,” Curry said. “My staff will work with the Jacksonville Cultural Council to convene experts in history and art to ensure we acknowledge our past in a full and complete way; a way forward that leaves no person’s heritage or experience behind.”Birmingham, AlabamaDemonstrators at Linn Park attempted to remove a 115-year-old monument during a protest on May 31.Mayor Randall Woodfin arrived at the scene, telling the demonstrators he would “finish the job” for them.
The city’s mayor pleaded with demonstrators to disperse before police came to make arrests, adding that he understood their anger.The park houses memorials dedicated to veterans and a statue of Confederate sailor Charles Linn.Here are the Confederate memorials that will be removed after CharlottesvilleWoodfin did not specify when exactly the monument would come down.”In order to prevent more civil unrest in our city, I think it is very imperative that we remove this statue that’s in Linn Park,” he said at a news conference June 1.About 54 miles west at the University of Alabama, The Board of Trustees and the university’s president authorized the removal of three plaques on the campus that commemorate University of Alabama students who served in the Confederate army and members of the student cadet corps involved in defending the campus, according to an online statement. Confederate war memorial on the campus of University of Alabama.The plaques were in front of Gorgas Library but were removed and “placed at a more appropriate historical setting on the recommendation of Dr. Bell,” a university spokesperson told CNN.Additionally, a group of the university’s trustees are set to to review and study the names of buildings on all UA System campuses.Montgomery, AlabamaAbout 90 miles south of Birmingham, demonstrators tore down a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that stood in front of Lee High School in Montgomery on June 1, according to CNN affiliate WSFA.
Montgomery police told WSFA that four people have been charged with first-degree criminal mischief, a felony.The 112-year-old statue was housed in two other locations in Montgomery before coming to the grounds of Lee High School, according to the school’s website. A pedestal that held a statue of Robert E. Lee stands empty outside a high school named for the Confederate general.It was taken off school property and hauled away to storage, according to WSFA.Nashville, TennesseeA controversial statue of Edward Carmack, a former US senator and newspaper owner known for attacking civil rights advocates like Ida B. Wells, was carried away from the city’s Capitol grounds on Monday, according to CNN affiliate WKRN.The removal came after demonstrators tore the monument down on Sunday.Alexandria, VirginiaCrews in historic Old Town Alexandria removed a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier named “Appomattox” last Tuesday morning.The memorial was erected in 1889 to honor Confederate soldiers from the Virginia city.Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson tweeted photos of the statue’s removal. “Alexandria, like all great cities, is constantly changing and evolving,” he wrote.
Alexandria, like all great cities, is constantly changing and evolving. pic.twitter.com/CZTjlOkpfT
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) June 2, 2020
A spokesperson for the city told CNN in a statement that the owner of the statue, United Daughters of the Confederacy, notified the city and said that they would remove the statue on June 2. Virginia is home to more Confederate commemorations than any other state, according to its governor, Ralph Northam, and on Thursday he vowed to do something about that.Northam said he’s directing that the statue of Robert E. Lee, which sits in the capital of Richmond, be taken down and moved into storage while a decision is made on its future.”In Virginia, we no longer preach a false version of history,” Northam wrote in a tweet. “America is once again looking to Virginia to lead. And make no mistake — removing a symbol is important, but it’s only a step. We still need change in this country. We need healing most of all. But symbols matter. We all know it’s time. And history will prove that.”Mobile, AlabamaThe pedestal where the statue of Raphael Semmes once stood is now empty. The city removed the statue of Confederate Adm. Raphael Semmes from downtown early Friday and took it to a secure location, Mayor Sandy Stimpson said in a tweet.Stimpson said the decision to remove that statue was not about Semmes or an attempt to rewrite history.”It is about removing a potential distraction so we may focus clearly on the future of our city,” Stimpson wrote. “That conversation, and the mission to create one Mobile, continues today.”Bristol, United KingdomWhile there are several Confederate monuments sprinkled throughout the country, protesters across the pond are pushing for the removal of controversial landmarks as well. On Sunday, Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol, pulled down a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and rolled it through the streets before dumping it, unceremoniously, into the River Avon.Britain's imperialist monuments face a bitter reckoning amid Black Lives Matter protests Britain’s towns and cities are dotted with monuments to figures like Colston.On Tuesday, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced a commission to examine the future of landmarks around the capital, including murals, street art, street names and statues.And while the fate of several controversial statues throughout the country have been determined, monuments in Indianapolis, Indiana; Rocky Mountain, North Carolina; and in Roanoke and Norfolk, both in Virginia, remain, but plans are in motion for their removal. Portsmouth, VirginiaProtesters partially dismantled the town’s Confederate monument Wednesday night, even completely removing one of the statues. A man was hit by the statue, and is in the hospital suffering life threatening conditions, according to Virginia State Police. Mayor John L. Rowe, Jr. said in a statement that the Portsmouth Police did the right thing in confining the vandalism to the one piece of public property, so as to protect lives and the remaining private property in the area.The issue of moving or removing the entire monument will be addressed at a public hearing on July 28, the mayor said.