Eduardo Acevedo, News Editor
Hannah Eason, Managing Editor
Andrew Ringle, Executive Editor
The statue of Christopher Columbus in Byrd Park was removed from its pedestal and thrown into a nearby lake during a protest on Tuesday.
The statue came down around 9 p.m. and was thrown into Fountain Lake. Several crowd members lit fireworks over the lake in celebration.
The Colombus statue has been thrown in the lake at Byrd Park. Protesters are standing on the statue and lifting fireworks over the lake in celebration. Most of the protesters have cleared out of the park in fear of retaliation and arrest by police. I’m heading to my car now too.
— Eduardo Acevedo (@edace2936) June 10, 2020
Shortly after, helicopters circled over the park with spotlights as the crowd dispersed.
Protesters splattered the statue with red paint before removing it to signify the blood of indigenous people that was shed during Columbus’ lifetime. Demonstrations began in Byrd Park at 6 p.m. Tuesday, starting with speakers who said they represented indigenous people and supported the Black Lives Matter movement.
At least one speaker was a member of the Richmond Indigenous Society, a local community group for indigenous people. A sign near the Columbus statue said “This land is POWHATAN land.”
King Foster, a former technology major at VCU, said he agreed with taking down the monument honoring Columbus.
“I don’t think it shows only anger against the monument and the person, I think it shows anger against all of America and all of its representatives,” Foster said. “The history is not taught right in school, but most people know their history and how it really went down.”
Much bigger turnout than the group that marched to the police headquarters last night. There are at least two drummers in the crowd who’ve demonstrated their support with rhythmic beats as the crowd clapped for the speakers. pic.twitter.com/g1xeBx9GAX
— Eduardo Acevedo (@edace2936) June 9, 2020
Christopher, who did not wish to provide his last name, has been working as a medic during demonstrations in Richmond. The former VCU student and Ferrum College graduate carries inhalers to treat people with asthma and helps keep crowd members safe.
“Of course this is a protest so some people are gonna get rowdy,” he said. “I try to calm them down just for their safety.”
Christopher said he supports the inclusion of Native Americans in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“They have been going through just as much if not more than we have,” the former biology major said. “Since the Black Lives Matter movement has started, we should have been introducing the indigenous people to that movement from the get go.”