Protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck, targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities. As tense protests swelled across the country Saturday into Sunday morning, monuments in Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Mississippi were defaced. The presence of Confederate monuments across the South -- and elsewhere in the United States -- has been challenged for years, and some of the monuments targeted were already under consideration for removal. The words "spiritual genocide" in black spray paint, along with red handprints, stained the sides of a Confederate monument on the University of Mississippi campus Saturday, The Oxford Eagle reported. One person was arrested at the scene.
Beginning Jan. 1 next year, Jefferson Davis Highway in Alexandria, Va., will be known as Richmond Highway. After three years of discussion, the City Council in Alexandria, Va., voted Saturday to remove the name of Jefferson Davis from a city highway. Jefferson Davis Highway, named for the only president of the Confederacy, will be renamed Richmond Highway, council members decided in a 6-0 vote. The change that will take effect Jan. 1 of next year, a city news release said. The old name offended many residents of Virginia's seventh-largest city, which has an estimated population of about 160,000 and is roughly 8 miles south of Washington D.C. It's offensive to those moving in, those who have been here.
After a "Unite the Right" rally in Virginia to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee resulted in the death of a woman who was demonstrating against white supremacy, many other cities across America have decided to remove Confederate statues and monuments. Following the violence in Charlottesville, cities are debating whether to remove the controversial monuments, many of which were dedicated in the early twentieth century or during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Discussions are under way about the removal of monuments in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, Pensacola, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, Lexington, Kentucky, Richmond, Virginia, Birmingham, Alabama, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Under cover of darkness, city workers removed a statue on Aug. 18 of former Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney that had been on the State House's front lawn for 145 years. Taney authored the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision, which held that African-Americans could not be U.S. citizens.
The city of Richmond took down a statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson on Wednesday as part of a broader push to remove roughly a dozen Confederate-era monuments on city land. Hundreds came out to watch the removal of the statue memorializing the Confederate general, a move steeped in symbolism given Richmond's role as the capital of the Confederacy. The political makeup of the state has changed dramatically over the past two decades, as has, more recently, the nature of the national conversation over the appropriateness of statues memorializing a dark, brutally repressive period of American history. The Jackson statue was one of numerous city monuments to the Confederacy created many decades after the Civil War aiming to rehabilitate the South's image, recasting it as a defender of states' rights rather propagator of slavery. When the Jackson statue was finally on the ground, the crowd cheered and bells rang out from a nearby church.