Protestors beheaded a total of four statues on Wednesday evening before the near-fatal accident. They began spray painting the monument after Portsmouth NAACP president James Boyd and the local organization’s vice president, Louie Gibbs, were taken into custody and charged with trespassing.
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Don Scott, a defense attorney for Gibbs and Boyd, announced that both local NAACP leaders were released 30 minutes later on a summons.
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Breitbart.com reports: Photos shared by Virginian-Pilot reporter Saleen Martin show the monument covered in paint with the phrases “Tear it down,” and “BLM.”
Another photo shows “Fuck Trump” was written on the monument.
At one point, a protester lit a flag on fire and placed it on the monument.
Later, a video showed all four statues on the monument had their heads smashed off.
WAVY TV 10 reporter Brett Hall reported that a man was “seriously hurt” after he is hit by the falling statue that was torn down by protesters. One protester, identified as a Black Lives Matter activist, described the incident to Hall.
There was a gentleman directly in front of the statue and when the statue finally did get [torn down], it fully hit him in the head and we could see that his skull was actually showing”
“He was convulsing on the ground and he lost quite an amount of blood,” he added. “We’re just asking for everyone to pray for that man.”
A Portsmouth Police spokeswoman confirmed to WAVY that an injury occurred at the protest, but the extent of the injury is currently unknown.
The beheading of the statues came shortly after protesters in St. Paul, Minnesota, toppled a statue of 15th Century explorer Christopher Columbus outside the state’s Capitol building.
In recent days, Virginia to Jacksonville, Florida, began taking down Confederate statues. On Tuesday, protesters tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond, while a statue of the explorer was beheaded in Boston.
Earlier Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called for statues of Confederate leaders to be removed from the Capitol.
In a letter, Pelosi told a House-Senate committee with jurisdiction over the controversial topic that Confederate statues “pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed.”
The California Democrat made the announcement on the very day President Donald Trump vowed on Twitter that he would not rename military bases honoring Confederate generals. Only a short time before Pelosi’s statement, NASCAR announced it would ban displays of the Confederate flag at its races.
Confederate monuments have reemerged as a national flashpoint since the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes. Protesters decrying racism have targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities, and some state officials are considering taking them down.
Pelosi lacks the authority to order the removal of the 11 Capitol statues honoring Confederates but is urging the little-noticed Joint Committee on the Library to vote to remove them. Senate Republicans share jurisdiction.