Protesters pulled the only statue of a Confederate general in the nation’s capital with chains off his pedestal on Friday night and set fire to it.
Screaming protesters jumped up and down as the statue of Albert Pike – stuck in chains – began to cradle on his high granite pedestal and then crashed back into a cloud of dust. Protesters then made a fire and drone around the burning statue “no justice, no peace” and “no racist police”.
Witnesses said police were at the scene, but they did not intervene in the riot. Pres. Donald Trump tweeted about the incident shortly after, accusing Washington DC Mayor Muriel Browser of not doing their job and watching a statue be pulled over.
Trump demanded immediate arrests.
Jubilant protesters read and cheered Trump’s tweet over a microphone. After the statue was toppled, most protesters returned peacefully to Lafayette Park, near the White House.
The Pike statue has been controversial for years. The former Confederate leader was also an influential leader of the Freemasons. The organization paid for the statue and it was erected on condition that he is depicted in civilian dress, and not in an army uniform. Pike’s critics frequently accuse him of being a founding member of the Ku Klux Klan, but the Masons deny it.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, protesters also damaged part of a Confederate monument and hung one of the flat statues of a lamp post.
Protesters used ropes to overthrow the statues of two Confederate soldiers, who form part of a larger obelisk in Raleigh.
Earlier in the evening, police stopped protesters’ initial attempts to destroy the statues, but after police withdrew from the area, protesters climbed onto the obelisk and pushed the statues down.