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Protesters tear down Christopher Columbus statue in Richmond, throw it in lake

The statue was reportedly set on fire prior to it being tossed into the water.
Credit: AP
A statue of Christopher Columbus is in the water at Byrd Park in Richmond, Va. Tuesday, June 9, 2020, after it was torn down by protesters. The figure was toppled less than two hours after protesters gathered in the city’s Byrd Park were chanting for the statue to be taken down, news outlets reported. (@marleynichelle via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. — For the second time in less than a week, protesters have toppled a statue in Richmond.

Local Richmond media have posted images showing the Christopher Columbus statue located in Byrd Park has been torn down from its pedestal and thrown into the lake.  WWBT NBC12 reports it was also set on fire prior to being tossed into the water.

The figure was removed from its pedestal around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday by protesters using several ropes. NBC 12 reports it was then set on fire and submerged into a lake in the park. A sign that reads, “Columbus represents genocide” has been placed on the spray-painted foundation that once held the statue.

The statue had been a fixture at Byrd Park ever since it was erected nearly a century ago.  At that time, the monument was controversial due to anti-Italian and anti-Catholic sentiment, which prevented it from being placed alongside Confederate figures on Monument Avenue.

In more recent years the 15th-century navigator has seen a different kind of controversy because the actions of his trips to the New World spurred centuries of genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas.

Credit: AP
A statue of Christopher Columbus is in the water at Byrd Park in Richmond, Va. Tuesday, June 9, 2020, after it was torn down by protesters. The figure was toppled less than two hours after protesters gathered in the city’s Byrd Park were chanting for the statue to be taken down, news outlets reported. (@marleynichelle via AP)

Last Saturday, protesters also tore down the statue of Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham from its pedestal in Richmond’s Monroe Park. 

Other Confederate monuments in the Virginia capital may soon come down on behalf of the city and the state. Gov. Ralph Northam is working to have a monument of General Robert E. Lee removed from state grounds, while the city plans to begin removing other Confederate statues along Monument Avenue in the months to come.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.