Vandalizing American History: A List of 64 Toppled, Defaced, or Removed Statues
Police officers watch over a statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, that was pulled down by vandals June 10 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo: Parker Michels-Boyce/AFP/Getty Images)
The list of American statues and other monuments that have been toppled, decapitated, defaced, or removed since the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis grew longer almost daily through June and into July.
A mob cheered as it pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In Washington, D.C., rioters used ropes to tear down a bronze depiction of Albert Pike, a Confederate general, and then set the 11-foot statue on fire.
Vandals have not discriminated among the monuments they target, defacing statues of Confederate and Union soldiers alike, and going after those that have no association with racism, such as an 120-year-old statue of an elk in Portland, Oregon.
Vandals defaced—and/or officials removed—at least four statues and monuments in each of three states: Alabama, New York, and Texas. Five such incidents occurred in North Carolina, nine in California, and 11 in Virginia.
Two regimes are fighting an ideological war in America today. But what side are you on? And how can you sharpen up on how to defend your position?
Here is a list of 64 statues and other monuments vandalized or removed since May 30, according to news reports. The list may not be complete, so numerous are the incidents.
- May 30: Edward Carmack, Tennessee
Rioters pulled down a statue in Nashville, Tennessee, depicting 19th-century newspaper editor Edward Carmack. According to the Tennessee State Museum, Carmack criticized Ida B. Wells, an African American journalist and civil rights advocate who wrote against racial injustice.
- May 30: Confederate monument, Mississippi
Vandals painted red handprints on the University of Mississippi’s Confederate monument in Oxford, Mississippi, along with the words “spiritual genocide.”
- May 31: Charles Linn, Alabama
A mob toppled a statue of Charles Linn, a Confederate navy captain who was one of the founders of Birmingham, Alabama. The vandals set afire and defaced the depiction of Linn once it was on the ground.
- June 1: Gen. Robert E. Lee, Alabama
Police arrested and charged three men and one woman in connection with toppling a statue of Robert E. Lee outside a high school in Montgomery, Alabama, that bears the name of the celebrated Confederate general. Authorities dropped charges of first-degree criminal mischief against all four June 11.
- June 2: Gen. Robert E. Lee, Maryland
Someone applied graffiti to deface the plaque in front of the statue of Lee at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland.
- June 2: “Appomattox,” Virginia
The United Daughters of the Confederacy removed the “Appomattox” statue in Alexandria depicting a lone soldier to commemorate all of the city’s Confederate soldiers. The bronze statue had stood in Old Town Alexandria since 1899.
- June 3: Confederate Cemetery, South Carolina
A vandal or vandals defaced a Confederate monument at a cemetery in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, by painting a swastika, the letter “X,” and the letters “USA” on it.
- June 3: Mayor Frank Rizzo, Pennsylvania
Workers removed a statue of Frank Rizzo, the Democratic mayor of Philadelphia in the 1970s, from the steps of the Municipal Services Building. Someone had spray-painted the bronze statue of Rizzo, also a former Philadelphia police chief. Rizzo allowed violence against black Americans while mayor from 1972 to 1980, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
- June 4: Gen. Robert E. Lee, Virginia
A judge blocked the efforts of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, to remove a 60-foot statue of Lee from Monument Avenue in Richmond. Vandals had covered the statue in graffiti, and its location has been the site of numerous protests since Floyd’s death.
Protesters gather around a statue of Robert E. Lee on June 23 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images)
- June 5: Orville Hubbard, Michigan
Officials in Dearborn, Michigan, removed a statue of Orville Hubbard, the city’s mayor from 1942 to 1978. Hubbard was a firm advocate of racial segregation, accrding to the Detroit Historical Society. The family of the late mayor now possesses the statue, which had stood outside the Dearborn Historical Museum.
- June 5: Adm. Raphael Semmes, Alabama
Crews removed a statue of Raphael Semmes, an admiral in the Confederate navy, in downtown Mobile, Alabama. “Moving this statue will not change the past. It is about removing a potential distraction so we may focus clearly on the future of our city,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson, a Republican, said.
- June 6: Williams Carter Wickham, Virginia
Demonstrators toppled a statue of Williams Carter Wickham, a Confederate general, in Richmond’s Monroe Park. Graffiti reading “BLM” (an acronym for Black Lives Matter) covered the base of the statue, which had stood in the park since 1891.
- June 8: Confederate monument, Virginia
Rioters littered a Confederate monument in Norfolk, Virginia, with toilet paper and graffiti, including the letters “BLM.” City officials said they planned to remove the monument.
- June 8: Confederate monument, Indiana
Indianapolis city workers removed a monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers who died in a Union prison camp in Indianapolis during the Civil War. “We must name these instances of discrimination and never forget our past—but we should not honor them,” Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, said.
- June 8: John Breckinridge Castleman, Kentucky
City crews in Louisville, Kentucky, removed a statue of John Breckinridge Castleman, a Confederate officer, from the center of the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood. Castleman became a brigadier general in the U.S. Army after the Civil War and was instrumental in setting up Louisville’s segregated park system, The Courier-Journal reported. Officials planned to move the statue to Cave Hill Cemetery, where Castleman is buried.
- June 8: Confederate monument, North Carolina
The City Council of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, approved removal of a Confederate monument featuring a soldier standing atop a tall pillar.
- June 8: Confederate statue, Florida
Crews removed a statue of a Confederate soldier from Hemming Park in Jacksonville, Florida. “We’ve got to find a way to come together,” Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican, said the next day. “We’re not going to agree on everything—that’s just not human history, human nature. We’ve got to find common ground.”
- June 9: Lawrence Sullivan Ross, Texas
A man spray-painted the word “racist” and the acronyms “BLM” and “ACAB” (an acronym for “All Cops Are Bastards”) on a statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross, a Confederate general, on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. The man also placed a rainbow wig on the statue’s head.
- June 9: Confederate monument, Texas
A small group of demonstrators used black spray paint to cover a plaque at a monument reading “In memory of our Confederate patriots 1861-1865,” outside the Walker County Courthouse in Huntsville, Texas.
- Early June: Matthias Baldwin, Pennsylvania
Vandals defaced a statue of inventor, manufacturer, and abolitionist Matthias Baldwin in Philadelphia with graffiti reading “COLONIZER” and “MURDERER” on an unknown date in early June. They also covered the face of the statue with red paint.
- June 10: Jefferson Davis, Virginia
Demonstrators used ropes to pull down a statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, in Richmond, Virginia, which was the capital of the Confederate States of America. The bronze depiction of Davis originally was placed along Monument Avenue in 1907.
- June 10: Confederate monument, Virginia
A large crowd beheaded statues of four Confederate soldiers, all part of the same monument, in Portsmouth, Virginia. Rioters covered the monument with graffiti and pulled down one figure, which hit a man in the head, landing him in a hospital.
- June 10: Christopher Columbus, Massachusetts
Vandals beheaded the statue of Columbus in Boston’s North End, prompting the city to remove it. Vandals previously had defaced the statue with paint in 2015 and beheaded it in 2006.
- June 10: Christopher Columbus, Virginia
Rioters pulled down the statue of Columbus that had stood in Richmond, Virginia, since 1927. They placed a burning American flag on top of the statue before throwing it into a nearby lake.
- June 10: Christopher Columbus, Minnesota
Protesters gathered outside the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul used rope to pull down a 10-foot bronze statue of Columbus.
- June 10: Christopher Columbus, Florida
Rioters spray-painted black-power fists, a hammer and sickle, and the initials BLM over a plaque beneath the statue of Columbus in Miami. They also covered the statue’s face and hands in red paint. Police arrested seven suspects shortly afterward.
- June 10: Juan Ponce de León, Florida
Vandals spray-painted a statue of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in Bayfront Park, the same Miami park where someone defaced the Columbus statue. Authorities said a protest began peacefully, but quickly grew violent.
- June 10: Confederate monument, Alabama
The Madison County Commission voted to remove a Confederate monument outside the courthouse in downtown Huntsville, Alabama.
- June 11: Don Juan de Oñate, Texas
Vandals spray-painted obscenities and other words on a sculpture of Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate outside El Paso International Airport in Texas.
- June 11: “One Riot, One Ranger,” Texas
A city work crew removed a statue of a Texas Ranger entitled “One Riot, One Ranger” that had stood at Love Field airport in Dallas since 1963.
- June 11: Philip Schuyler, New York
Officials decided to remove a statue of Philip Schuyler, a Revolutionary War general, from in front of Albany City Hall. In a tweet, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat, said Schuyler reportedly was “the largest owner of enslaved people in Albany during his time.”
- June 12: Christopher Columbus, Pennsylvania
Vandals defaced the base of a Columbus statue with red handprints and graffiti reading “MURDER” and “OG PIG” in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park. The incident marked the third time the statue has been defaced in recent years.
- June 13: Christopher Columbus, Rhode Island
Workers removed a statue of Columbus in Providence, Rhode Island, after rioters splashed red paint across it and hung a sign reading, “STOP CELEBRATING GENOCIDE.” The city officials were determining whether they would relocate the statue.
- June 13: Christopher Columbus, Illinois
A vandal or vandals spray-painted the acronym BLM on a statue of Columbus on Chicago’s Museum Campus.
- June 14: George Washington, Illinois
Vandals defaced a statue of the Founding Father and first president in Washington Park, covering the base in red spray paint reading “SLAVE OWNER” and “GOD BLESS AMERIKKKA.” The perpetrators also placed a white gown and hood on the sculpture.
- June 14: John Greenleaf Whittier, California
A vandal or vandals spray-painted a statue of 19th-century Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier in the city named after him, writing “BLM” and “— Slave Owners” on it. Whittier was a delegate to the first meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Convention, the Whittier Daily News reported.
- June 15: Don Juan de Oñate, New Mexico
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat, announced the removal of a statue of Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate after the shooting of a man during rival protests around it. The next day, crews removed the statue from outside Albuquerque Museum.
- June 15: John Sutter, California
Workers removed a bronze depiction of California settler and businessman John Sutter from Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento after vandals defaced it with graffiti. Sutter abused and enslaved Native Americans in the 1840s, according to HistoryNet.
- June 16: Howitzer Monument, Virginia
Rioters toppled Richmond’s Howitzer Monument and littered it with graffiti. The monument, built in 1892, commemorates a Confederate artillery unit known as the Howitzers, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Vandals pulled down a Confederate monument commemorating Howitzer soldiers June 16 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo: John McDonnell/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
- June 19: Francis Scott Key, California
Rioters toppled a statue of Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” on the day known as Juneteenth, which commemorates the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas learned Lincoln had freed them a year and a half earlier.
- June 19: St. Junipero Serra, California
A mob pulled down a statue of St. Junipero Serra, an 18th-century Roman Catholic priest and missionary, that had stood in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for over a century. Some sources say the Spanish missionary abused Native Americans on the West Coast and subjected them to forced labor.
- June 19: Ulysses S. Grant, California
Rioters toppled a bust of Ulysses S. Grant, the Union general and later president who played an integral role in ending slavery in America. A crowd of 400 gathered and watched in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park as vandals pulled down the monument. Police were present, but made no arrests.
- June 19: Albert Pike, District of Columbia
A crowd cheered as rioters toppled a statue of Albert Pike, apparently the only Confederate statue in Washington, D.C. The group gathered around the fallen statue shouting, “Black lives matter” before setting it on fire with lighter fluid.
- June 19: Confederate monument, North Carolina
Demonstrators pulled down statues of two Confederate soldiers from a monument just outside the State Capitol in Raleigh. They dragged a bronze depiction of a cavalryman down the road with a rope around its neck and hung the statue from a lightpost. They dragged the statue of an artilleryman to the front of the Wake County Courthouse. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, ordered work crews to remove what was left of the monument.
- June 20: Henry Lawson Wyatt, North Carolina
Crews removed a statue of Henry Lawson Wyatt, believed to be the first Confederate soldier killed at the start of the Civil War, from its location in Raleigh. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered the statue removed in the interest of public safety.
- June 20: Women of the Confederacy, North Carolina
By the governor’s order, workers removed a monument dedicated to the women of North Carolina who lived during the Civil War.
- June 20: St. Junipero Serra, California
A crowd shouted “Take it down! Take it down!” as rioters toppled a bronze depiction of St. Junipero Serra in Father Serra Park in downtown LA. The Los Angeles Times reported that Native Americans of various ages gathered around the face-down statue as some doused it with red paint.
- June 22: Andrew Jackson, District of Columbia
Rioters attempted to tear down a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House, but police intervened. Vandals did succeed in defacing the base of the statue with graffiti reading “KILLER” and “RACIST SCUM,” among other things. The Justice Department on July 2 charged four men with defacing the statue, including a man identified as a ringleader.
- June 24: John C. Calhoun, South Carolina
Workers removed a statue of former Vice President John C. Calhoun from Marion Square in Charleston. The City Council had voted unanimously June 23 to remove the statue.
- June 29: George Washington, New York
A man and a woman threw balloons filled with red paint on two statues of Washington that stand on either side of the famed arch at Washington Square Park in Manhattan. One depicts Washington as president, the other as a Revolutionary War general.
- June 30: Lincoln Emancipation Statue, Massachusetts
Boston’s Art Commission voted to remove a statue of President Abraham Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation while a freed slave rises from a kneeling position with broken shackles on his wrists. Citizens began a petition drive to keep the statue at its Park Square location.
- June 30: New York City Hall, New York
Rioters used black spray paint and tape to deface statues of three figures standing on the side of New York City Hall in Manhattan. On and around the statues, they wrote phrases such as “ALL COPS LIE,” “You f— a— cops are getting abolished,” and “NO JUSTICE NO PEACE.”
An officer with the New York State Courts inspects graffiti sprayed on statues and walls near the Occupy City Hall campground June 30 in Manhattan. (Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis/Getty Images)
- July 1: Elk statue, Oregon
A mob set fire to an iconic, 120-year-old statue of an elk atop a fountain in Portland, which also had been covered with graffiti in recent weeks. The city removed the statue the next day, citing safety concerns.
- July 2: Matthew Fontaine Maury, Virginia
Work crews in Richmond removed a graffiti-covered statue of Matthew Fontaine Maury, a Confederate naval officer during the Civil War who is more broadly known as the “Father of Oceanography.”
- July 4: St. Junipero Serra, California
Rioters toppled and set fire to a statue of St. Junipero Serra, an 18th-century Roman Catholic priest, outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento. They also pounded the statue with sledgehammers.
- July 4: Christopher Columbus, Connecticut
Someone decapitated a statue of Columbus outside Waterbury City Hall.
The beheaded statue of Columbus outside Waterbury City Hall. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
- July 4: “El Soldado,” California
Someone spray-painted the words “F— Colonizers” on the base of a statue honoring Mexican-American soldiers in Sacramento. The act was a “hate crime,” Chris Marzan, spokesman for the California Mexican American Veterans Memorial Foundation, said.
- July 4: Christopher Columbus, Maryland
Rioters toppled a white marble statue of Columbus and threw it into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Crews lifted the remains of the sculpture from the water the following Monday.
- July 5: Frederick Douglass, New York
Someone ripped a statue of Frederick Douglass from its base in Rochester on the 168th anniversary of the celebrated abolitionist’s famous speech there titled “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” The statue suffered significant damage, authorities said.
- July 7: Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, Virginia
Workers used a crane to remove a statue of J.E.B. Stuart, Confederate general, from Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Rioters had spray-painted the bronze monument of the general atop a horse.
- July 7: Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella, California
Crews removed a statue known as “Columbus’ Last Appeal to Queen Isabella” from the rotunda of the State Capitol in Sacramento. The sculpture had been on display since 1883.
- July 7: Confederate monument, North Carolina
Police arrested three suspects in connection with the vandalism with graffiti of a 111-year-old Confederate monument in front of a United Methodist church in Cornelius.
- July 8: Confederate Soldiers and Sailors, Virginia
Workers removed a 100-foot monument known as “Confederate Soldiers and Sailors” from Libby Hill Park in Richmond. Vandals had covered the base of the monument—featuring a Confederate soldier atop a pillar—with graffiti.
Workers lower the “Confederate Soldiers and Sailors” onto a flatbed truck July 8 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images)
- July 11: The Virgin Mary, Massachusetts
Someone set fire to artificial flowers in the hand of a statue of the Virgin Mary at Saint Peter’s Parish Church in Dorchester. Flames charred the statue’s face and upper body.
Virginia Allen is a news producer for The Daily Signal. She is the co-host of The Daily Signal Podcast and Problematic Women.
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