Christopher Columbus statue at Byrd Park torn down, thrown into lake

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Christopher Columbus statue at Byrd Park has fallen at the hands of protesters.

Witnesses say around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, protesters used three ropes to pull the Christopher Columbus statue down. This comes days after the Confederate statue of General Williams Carter Wickham was taken down in Monroe Park on Saturday night by the same method.

After the statue fell, protesters dragged the sculpture to the nearby Landing at Fountain Lake. 8News spoke with one protester who admitted to helping knock down the statue. The protester says the action was not planned, however, explaining that the act was a build-up over time after chants of “tear it down.”

Earlier in the evening, demonstrators were seen marching down Arthur Ashe Boulevard en route to Byrd Park Tuesday night.

WATCH: Protesters march down Arthur Ashe Blvd. en route to Byrd Park Tuesday night

City Parks and Recreation confirmed to 8News that the statue is owned by the city of Richmond. According to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the statue was commissioned by local Italian-American residents and completed by Ferruccio Legnaioli, a prominent sculptor who was living in Richmond.

The statue was the first of Columbus to be put up in the American South, the first to be erected in Byrd Park and first in the city to have night illumination. It was also “donated entirely by Virginians of Italian birth at a cost of $25,000,” according to the department.

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  • Columbus statue

Crews removed the statue from the water around 9:15 a.m. and it was driven away on the back of a tow truck. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney responded to the statue being torn down and thrown into the lake on Twitter after it was retrieved Wednesday.

“The atrocities inflicted upon indigenous people by Christopher Columbus are unconscionable. That’s why the city began observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, not Columbus Day, in 2019. But the decision & action to remove a monument should be made in collaboration w/the community,” Stoney wrote. “Working with Richmond’s History and Culture Commission, we are establishing a process by which Richmonders can advocate for change to the figures we place on public pedestals across our city in a legal and peaceful way.”

City Council Mike Jones spoke with 8News about the statue being dragged by protesters and thrown into the water.

“I would like to say that I’m shocked but I’m really not shocked,” Jones said. “I know the sentiment, nationally and locally surrounding Christopher Columbus and his legacy.”

In a statement, the Richmond Indigenous Community said, “We stand in solidarity with black and brown communities that are tired of the oppression of the colonizers and who are tired of seeing our people died by an out of control, militarized and violent police force.”

MORE MONUMENTS FALL: Protesters take down pieces of Portsmouth’s Confederate monument; one person hurt

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