U.S. grapples with Confederate past
June 11, 2020 - Statues of Confederate leaders have been torn down as protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd increase pressure for the removal of monuments connected to slavery.
In the weeks since Floyd's death under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer set off protests and sporadic violence across the U.S., many Confederate symbols and monuments have been damaged or brought down, some toppled by demonstrators and others removed by local authorities.
The movement has extended around the world, with protesters decrying monuments to slave traders, imperialists and explorers, including Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes and Belgium’s King Leopold II.
Protesters pulled down a century-old statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy, adding it to the list of monuments removed or damaged in the wake of George Floyd's death.
The Davis monument was a few blocks away from a massive equestrian statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that the state of Virginia is trying to take down. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam last week ordered its removal, but a judge on Monday blocked such action for at least 10 days.
Many Southerners defend the monuments as tributes to war dead and part of the country’s history, and vigorously oppose their removal despite their association with slavery and racism.
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