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Toppled and Removed Monuments: A Continually Updated Guide to Statues and the Black Lives Matter Protests

Over the past month, various monuments across the United States—and, in some cases, in Europe, too—have been the subject of mass protests, with demonstrators alleging that they promote white supremacy by raising racist figures to the status of heroes. Protesters in various cities have defaced and sometimes even toppled these controversial tributes, and politicians have occasionally heeded activists’ demands, slating other monuments for removal. The continually updated guide below, organized by geographic location, traces monuments that have been come down or are set to be removed from public view as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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United States

Alabama 

In Birmingham, protestors toppled an eight-foot-tall bronze statue of the Confederate navy captain Charles Linn in Linn Park on May 31. Randall Woodfin, the city’s mayor, subsequently issued an order to remove the nearby Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which protesters had attempted to dismantle. 

Protesters painted various messages, including “ACAB” and “Confed Scum,” on a statue of Confederate navy officer Raphael Semmes in downtown Mobile. On June 4, the city’s mayor, Sandy Stimpson, issued an order to remove the statute from public view. In a statement, the mayor said that the statue had been “placed in a secure location,” and that the decision to move it “will not change the past. It is about removing a potential distraction so we may focus clearly on the future of our city.”

 Boston

Protesters removed the head of a six-foot-tall Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s North End on June 10. The following day, the city moved the remaining parts of the statute from public view to storage. The city’s mayor, Martin Walsh, said that the local government is “going to take time to assess the historic meaning of the statue.”

Florida

On June 9, a bronze topper honoring the Jacksonville Light Infantry, a division in the Confederacy, was removed by the city.

Georgia

On June 2, plans for the removal of the Athens Confederate Monument were announced, though the decision has hit a legislative roadblock in the form of Senate Bill 77, which bars the city from moving Confederate monuments to locations of lower prominence. 

Indianapolis

A 35-foot-tall monument to Confederate soldiers in Garfield Park in Indianapolis was removed from public view on June 8 and its base was taken apart on June 9. The monument was originally placed in a cemetery in 1912 and moved to Garfield Park in 1928, when Ku Klux Klan members wanted to “make the monument more visible to the public,” according to city officials. “For far too long it has served as nothing more than a painful reminder of our state’s horrific embrace of the Ku Klux Klan a century ago,” Joe Hogsett, mayor of Indianapolis, said of the monument on the occasion of its removal. 

Kentucky

A statue of Confederate soldier John B. Castleman was removed from the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood in Louisville on June 8. According to a report by the Courier-Journal, the city plans to move the statue to Cave Hill Cemetery, where Castleman is buried. 

The University of Kentucky in Lexington said on June 5 that a mural, which has previously been a source of controversy on campus, will be removed. Students have protested racist images of black people and Native Americans in the mural. In an email to students, the university’s president, Eli Capilouto, recalled “a conversation with one student about the mural who stopped me cold with the observation that every time he walked into a class in Memorial Hall, he was forced to reckon with the fact that his forebears were enslaved.”

North Carolina 

On June 9, a joint resolution was passed by Asheville City Council on the removal of the 50-foot-tall Vance Monument and accompanying Confederate monuments displayed downtown. The Vance Monument honors Zebulon Baird Vance, a former North Carolina governor and Confederate military officer. The resolution demands the monument must be removed immediately by the organization United Daughters of the Confederacy, or the city will execute the removal. A 2015 North Carolina law prohibits the removal of a public monument unless it is relocated to a “site of similar prominence,” though currently monuments are exempt from the law if they are privately owned. 

Pennsylvania 

A bronze statue of Philadelphia’s former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo was hammered, painted, and tied with ropes by protesters before the city removed it from view using a crane on June 3. Rizzo opposed desegregation, targeted black communities, and was known to use homophobic slurs. A mural of Rizzo in the city’s Italian Market neighborhood was painted over by the city a few days later. Valerie Gay, an executive at the Barnes Foundation, told ARTnews that “there was a multiethnic assault on the statue because people understand the history and context.”

St. Paul

On June 10, a 10-foot bronze statute of Christopher Columbus was beheaded and toppled by protesters and subsequently removed from outside the Minnesota Capitol Building. 

Tennessee

On May 30, a statue of Edward Carmack, a politician who wrote pro-lynching editorials and incited violence against the journalist and activist Ida B. Wells was toppled by protesters in Nashville. Officials have said they will replace the statue. 

Virginia 

On June 2, the city of Alexandria removed the 131-year-old statue of a Confederate soldier. The plan had been in the works since 2016, but recent protests expedited the process.

On June 4, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced plans to remove the statue of Lee from Richmond’s Monument Avenue.

On June 5, a slave auction block in Fredericksburg, Virginia was removed by the city from display in the downtown. It will be displayed in the Fredericksburg Area Museum. 

On June 6, a group of protesters in Richmond toppled a statue of Confederate general Williams Carter Wickham in the city’s Monroe Park. Three days later protesters toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus in the city’s Byrd Park. The monument was set on fire, wrapped in an American flag, and plunged into the nearby Boat Lake. On June 10, the statue of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis was the third monument in Richmond to fall. According to local reports, a driver tied a rope around the statue before connecting the opposite end to a sedan, which then drove off. 

Europe

Antwerp, Belgium 

On June 9, Antwerp officials removed a statue of King Leopold II from the city’s Ekeren district after it was defaced by protestors. It is currently in storage at Middelheim Museum. The state has faced criticism for years, given Leopold’s orchestration of the colonization and genocide of 10 million Congolese people. 

Bristol, England

On June 7, protesters in Bristol toppled a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and rolled it into the harbor. It was fished from the water on June 11 and taken to a “secure location,” according to the Bristol City Council. 

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