Righteous Toppling of Statues: Slave Owners, Confederate Generals, Imperialist Colonizers, Genocidal “Heroes,” and More….

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As protests continue across the U.S. and all over the world against police murder and racism, the people are taking righteous action to topple statues of slave owners, colonial oppressors, imperialist rulers and other enforcers of systematic, racist, oppression. Dozens of statues have been toppled, many more defaced. At his June 20 fascist rally in Tulsa, Trump whined about the desecration of “our monuments, our beautiful monuments” and how “they want to demolish our heritage”—in other words, the foundational role of slavery and the whole institution and culture of white supremacy in the U.S. Over the years there have been demands to take down such statues and especially now, in the wake of weeks of protests, some local and state governments say they will take some of these down. But the people aren’t waiting—they are taking things into their own hands!

Here are just some examples of statues that have been taken down or defaced by the people:

In Richmond, Virginia people tore down statues of the Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham, and former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Above: the statue of Jefferson Davis.

In Boston, a Christopher Columbus statue was beheaded by protesters. Statues of Columbus have been toppled in a number of other cities including Pittsburgh, St. Paul, Miami, and Richmond, Virginia, where the statue was then thrown into a nearby lake. Columbus did not “discover” the Americas—they had been inhabited by many different indigenous peoples for some 13,000 years. But he did bring conquest and enslavement, and launched one of the most massive, horrific genocides in human history. The photo above is from St. Paul.

In Bristol, England, demonstrators tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and threw it into a harbor. Between 1672 and 1689, Colston’s Royal African Company shipped about 100,000 enslaved people from West Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean. The statue was erected in 1895 with an inscription calling Colston “one of the most virtuous and wise sons” of the city.

A statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square in London was sprayed with graffiti. Millions died under British colonial rule in India because of famines driven by the imposition of capitalist-imperialist economic policies. Churchill declared he “hated Indians” and saw them as “a beastly people with a beastly religion.” In Bengal in 1943, up to three million starved in large part because of his policies. Photo: AP

In Montgomery, Alabama, a statue of top Confederate general Robert E. Lee was torn down by four protesters at the high school named after him. Above: the image of George Floyd is projected on a Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia.

In Washington, D.C., demonstrators toppled the 11-foot statue of Albert Pike, a Confederate general. Then they set a bonfire and stood around it in a circle as the statue burned, chanting, “No justice, no peace!” and “No racist police!”

In Raleigh, North Carolina, demonstrators used a strap to pull down two Confederate statues and then dragged the statues down a street and used a rope to hang one of the figures by its neck from a lamppost.

The toppling of Father Junipero Serra took place in San Francisco (above) and in Los Angeles where indigenous activists gathered in downtown Los Angeles, bound the statue of Father Junipero Serra with ropes and tore it off its pedestal to chants of “Take it down! Take it down!” Serra was the “father” of the mission system set up by Spanish colonizers in what is now California. The missions confined native people, and those who disobeyed or tried to escape were brutally punished. Indigenous culture and customs were banned.

Protesters in San Francisco brought down the statue of Francis Scott Key, a slave owner who wrote the U.S. national anthem. Scott used his position as district attorney for Washington, DC, in the 1830s to launch high-profile cases attacking the abolitionist movement and defending slavery.

And —

  • In Brussels, Belgium, protesters also targeted a monument to King Leopold II, whose colonization of the Congo killed more than 10 million, and tortured, enslaved and starved millions of others.
  • Protesters in San Francisco toppled the statue of Ulysses Grant, who was U.S. president after Lincoln. Grant led the Northern army in the Civil War but himself owned slaves and was responsible for launching war against the Plains Indians.
  • In Chicago, the George Washington statue in Washington Park was spray painted, and a white hood was placed on its head.
  • In Portsmouth, Virginia, four Confederate statues were beheaded by protesters.

There have been many more … and the taking down of these hated symbols of oppression continues.



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