A protester in Portsmouth, Virginia has learned the hard way that an abundance of iconoclastic enthusiasm is no substitute for safety precautions after a Confederate statue he was helping to topple landed right on his head.
The incident happened on Wednesday night during a Black Lives Matter anti-racism protest. The moment when the beheaded statue gave way to the efforts and fell on the unlucky participant was caught on camera. Other protesters can be heard cheering statue’s collapse, apparently oblivious to the fact that one of them was hurt in the process.
WARNING: Footage shows a person being seriously injured.
The incident happened on Court Street in Portsmouth, where a large group of protesters gathered on Wednesday to target a local Confederate landmark. The monument, which consists of a large granite obelisk surrounded by four generic bronze soldiers and sailors was erected in the late 1870s in honor of Confederate fighters from Portsmouth, Norfolk and Norfolk County. The protesters see it as a symbol of hate and white supremacy.
Activists vandalized the monument during the day, covering the obelisk with graffiti and pouring paint on the statues. As night came, an effort was launched to dismantle the four figures. The statues were first decapitated, and then the protesters tried to take them off their bases.
As one of the statues came down, its upper end hit one of the protesters right on the head. The man lost consciousness with a head laceration so deep that his skull could be seen through the wound, eyewitnesses said. Paramedics reportedly took him to hospital in a critical condition, as police intervened to tell the crowd to leave.
The event in Portsmouth is one of many taking place across several nations, where statues associated with racism and colonialism have been vandalized or damaged. Among others, protesters have toppled a statue of Columbus in Minnesota, and a statue of King Leopold II of Belgium in Antwerp, while a statue of Churchill in London was defaced with accusations of racism.
The iconoclasm spree comes this week on the back of mass protests against police brutality and institutionalized racism triggered by the choking to death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Four police officers, who were filmed arresting Floyd, have been charged in connection with the death, including with murder.
The Confederate monument in Portsmouth earlier became the focus of public ire in August 2017 after the notorious white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Members of Portsmouth City Council on Wednesday voted to hold a public hearing in July concerning the removal of the monument.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!