Several statues of Confederate figures and explorer Christopher Columbus have been torn down or beheaded in the last few weeks as the protests for racial equality continue.
Statues of Columbus in Boston, Miami, and Virginia have been vandalized. According to The Virginian Pilot, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was torn down in Richmond, Virginia, Wednesday.
The actions, which have happened in the past, have restarted as a result of the protests for racial equality and the end of police brutality against African Americans. Some places have taken statues down in response to the protests. In Virginia, demonstrators beheaded four Confederate statues before pulling one down using a tow rope, while a marching band played. Cops were in the area but did not stop or arrest demonstrators.
The crowd defaced the statue after the Portsmouth City Council decided to put off moving the monument, which sits at a site where slaves were punished at a whipping post according to Cassandra Newby-Alexander, a Norfolk State University history professor.
In addition to the heads being knocked off the statues, one protester knocked a rifle off of the statue using bolt cutters. The dedication marker also was taken down. Protesters gave the rifle and a sword they took from the monument to 73-year-old Vietnam veteran John Hooks.
“I’m a mixed bag of emotions,” Hooks told the Pilot after someone handed him a piece of the monument. “This is where they sold us into slavery.”
Protesters began spray painting the monuments Wednesday afternoon. Afterward, Portsmouth NAACP President James Boyd and vice president Louie Gibbs were arrested and charged with trespassing. Boyd and Gibbs were released about 30 minutes later on a summons, defense attorney Don Scott, who also serves as a state delegate representing the 80th District, told the Pilot.
Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene said Wednesday night they did not intervene because there were so few of them at the time. She said it would have put the officers at risk. Greene also said there was no threat to public safety.