Hundreds of marchers stood outside Douglass Homes on the 13th June afternoon to protest police brutality and, in the shadow of Johns Hopkins Hospital, decried the Baltimore institution and what they called its legacy of racism.
The gathering marked the start of another day of protest in Baltimore and the country in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Hundreds of people carried signs that urged Baltimore to defund its police force while proclaiming that Black Lives Matter.
Protesters in Baltimore pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus and dumped it into the city’s Inner Harbor on Saturday night.
“Hey, hey, ho ho, this racist guy has got to go!” the crowd of around 250 people chanted, the Baltimore Brew reported, as a couple of dozen protesters used ropes and chains to topple the monument in the Little Italy neighborhood.
Protesters mobilized by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police have called for the removal of statues of Columbus, Confederate figures, and others. They say the Italian explorer is responsible for the genocide and exploitation of native peoples in the Americas.
The statue was owned by the city and had been dedicated 36 years ago by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and President Ronald Reagan.
Lester Davis, a spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, told the Baltimore newspaper that the statue’s toppling is a part of a global reexamination of statues and monuments “that may represent different things to different people.”
Reporter Louis Krauss shared a video of the moment protesters cheered after the statue of the Italian explorer broke into pieces as it fell from its pedestal. Protesters then took the parts and dumped them into the city’s Inner Harbor.
“We understand the dynamics that are playing out in Baltimore are part of a national narrative,” Davis said. Young’s office and the Baltimore Police Department have been contacted for comment.
Across the country, monuments to Confederate leaders and other controversial figures have been toppled or removed by authorities amid ongoing protests against racism and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody in late May.
Protesters have toppled or defaced a number of statues depicting Columbus, saying the explorer was responsible for the exploitation and genocide of native populations in the Americas.
A Columbus statue in Boston was beheaded last month, while another in Richmond, Virginia was torn down, set on fire, and thrown into a lake.
Last week, two statues of Columbus were removed by authorities in Newark, New Jersey, with officials citing an effort to remove symbols of oppression.
As well as Confederate monuments and Columbus statues, protesters have also turned the ire to the nation’s first president. Demonstrators tore down and vandalized a statue of George Washington, who owned slaves, in Portland, Oregon last month.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has decried the attacks on monuments, claiming during his Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday night that the protesters who want to take down statues and monuments want to “end America.”
“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” Trump said.
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