North Carolina governor orders Confederate statues moved after several toppled

(Reuters) - North Carolina’s governor called for the removal of Confederate monuments from State Capitol grounds on Saturday, citing public safety after anti-racism protesters in Raleigh pulled two statues down with ropes Friday night.

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Crowds in Washington D.C. also toppled a statue of a Confederate general late on Friday, capping a day when thousands of people marched through U.S. cities in Juneteenth observances commemorating the abolition of slavery.

Video footage on Twitter showed cheering protesters in Raleigh taking down two Confederate statues with ropes and hanging one to a lamp post.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said on Saturday he had ordered other Confederate monuments to be moved from the State Capitol grounds to “protect public safety.”

“I am concerned about the dangerous efforts to pull down and carry off large, heavy statues and the strong potential for violent clashes at the site,” Cooper wrote on Twitter.

Construction crews removed the statues from the Capitol grounds Saturday morning, the Fayetteville Observer reported, including one dedicated to the women of the Confederacy and one honoring Confederate soldier Henry Wyatt.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on where the statues were taken.

There have been protests against racism and police brutality across the country and around the world since George Floyd, a Black man, died in Minneapolis police custody last month.

Some protesters have taken aim at monuments honoring figures from the pro-slavery Confederate side in the American Civil War, reviving a debate over their public display.

Television images also showed a statue of Confederate General Albert Pike, which was located near Judiciary Square in Washington, being pulled down with ropes on Friday night as protesters cheered “Black Lives Matter.” The protesters then appeared to use flammable liquid to set a fire to the statute, which police put out.

President Donald Trump said in a tweet here on Friday night, "The D.C. Police are not doing their job as they watch a statue be ripped down & burn. These people should be immediately arrested. A disgrace to our Country!"

Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Maria Ponnezhath; Editing by Frances Kerry and Tom Brown