Columbus statue taken down in New Jersey

Christopher Columbus statue removed in U.S.

A US city has taken down a statue of Christopher Columbus as part of a movement which has seen monuments around the world to slave traders, imperialists, conquerors and explorers removed or vandalised in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Officials in Camden, New Jersey, called the statue in Farnham Park a “controversial symbol” which has “long pained residents of the community”.

Protesters mobilised by the death of Mr Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis have called for the removal of statues of Columbus.

They say the Italian explorer is responsible for the genocide and exploitation of native people in the Americas.

Video from local news outlets showed the statue coming down on Thursday night.

City officials said “a plan to re-examine these outdated symbols of racial division and injustices” is overdue. The majority of residents of Camden, a city near Philadelphia, are people of colour.

Statues of Columbus have also been toppled or vandalised in Miami, Richmond in Virginia, St Paul in Minnesota, and Boston, where one was decapitated.

Protests and acts of vandalism have also taken place in New York, Paris, Brussels and Oxford, as part of an intense re-examination of racial injustices over the centuries.

Across Belgium, statues of Leopold II have been defaced in half a dozen cities because of the king’s brutal rule over the Congo, where more than a century ago he forced multitudes into slavery to extract rubber, ivory and other resources for his own profit.

Experts say he left as many as 10 million people dead.

On Wednesday night, US protesters pulled down a century-old statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy.

Elsewhere around the US South, authorities in Alabama got rid of a massive obelisk in Birmingham and a bronze likeness of a Confederate naval officer in Mobile.

In Virginia, a slave auction block was removed in Fredericksburg, and protesters in Portsmouth knocked the heads off the statues of four Confederate figureheads.

Supporters of Confederate monuments have argued that they are important reminders of history; opponents contend they glorify those who went to war against the US to preserve slavery.

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