Eduardo Acevedo, News Editor
Hannah Eason, Managing Editor
Andrew Ringle, Executive Editor
Demonstrators at VCU removed a statue honoring Confederate soldiers Tuesday night after marching for hours in the rain through downtown Richmond.
More than 150 protesters gathered in the park space near Harrison and Grove streets at 11 p.m. Many cheered as the Howitzer Monument was pulled from its stone foundation with rope.
Protesters began in Monroe Park at 8:30 p.m. and moved toward the Grace Street police headquarters, where on Monday night police used non-lethal explosives and chemical agents to disperse crowds. Officers did not use those tactics Tuesday as demonstrators passed the building.
Demonstrators gathered outside of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s downtown Richmond apartment around 10 p.m. and chanted “out of your house, into the streets.”
The protests began hours after Richmond Police Chief William Smith resigned at Stoney’s request. Captain William “Jody” Blackwell was appointed interim police chief.
Protesters have been alternating between “Where is Stoney?” and “Out of your house, into the streets,” chants. pic.twitter.com/QxhHCNSb1k
— Eduardo Acevedo (@edace2936) June 17, 2020
The Howitzer statue was the fourth monument to be torn down during Richmond protests. The Christopher Columbus statue in Byrd Park, a statue honoring Confederate general Williams Carter Wickham in Monroe Park and a Jefferson Davis statue on Monument Avenue have all been removed from their pedestals.
A memorial for fallen police officers was removed by the city from Byrd Park to protect it from vandalism.
VCU bought the triangle-shaped green area where the Howitzer statue stood from the City of Richmond in 1989. The purchase made the land and statue state property. Under the transfer’s conditions, VCU maintained the area and needed the city’s consent to remove or relocate the statue.
University spokesperson Mike Porter said the university was working with the city to address the monument.
“VCU is working with the City of Richmond to include this Confederate relic in the city’s recent efforts to address monuments throughout the city,” Porter said in an email on Monday.
The university audited Confederate symbols from its campus in 2017 after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville but needed the city’s approval to remove the Confederate statue, which sits outside of the W. E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts.
The statue, which was unveiled in 1892, depicts a soldier holding a cartridge which would clean a cannon before firing. It pays tribute to the service of the Richmond Howitzers Battalion during the years 1861-65.