June 16, 2020 / 6:39 PM / 22 days ago

St. Louis removes Columbus statue, latest monument after racial protests

Christopher Columbus statue is being removed in Tower Grove Park, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., June 16, 2020. in this picture obtained from social media. DOYLE MURPHY / RIVERFRONT TIMES via REUTERS

(Reuters) - A statue of Christopher Columbus has been removed from a St. Louis park, officials said on Tuesday, the latest monument taken down in response to nationwide protests over racial inequality.

Television images showed workers using a crane to yank the statue off its pedestal in Tower Grove Park and place it on a flat bed truck. Officials have not said where the statue will be taken.

Anti-racism protesters across the United States and around the world following the death last month of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, have demanded that authorities take down monuments honoring Columbus, pro-slavery Confederate figures and the architects of Europe’s colonies.

Native American activists have long objected to honoring Columbus, saying his expeditions to the Americas led to the colonization and genocide of their ancestors.

The Tower Grove Park’s board of commissioners said in a written statement that when the Columbus statue was erected 140 years ago, “its purpose was to celebrate the contributions of immigrants in this region.”

“But now, for many, it symbolizes a historical disregard for indigenous peoples and cultures and destruction of their communities,” the commissioners wrote.

Several statues of Columbus have been removed across the United States in recent weeks, along with monuments honoring those who fought for the South in the U.S. Civil War.

Detroit on Monday took down a Columbus statue at the entrance of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and placed it in storage, officials said. Officials in West Orange, New Jersey, said this week they will remove a Columbus monument.

Last week, a monument to Columbus was vandalized and thrown into a lake in Richmond, Virginia. In Boston, the head of a statue of the explorer was removed and broken.

Reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by David Gregorio

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