Statues of Confederate leaders and the explorer Christopher Columbus have been torn down in the US, as pressure grows on authorities to remove monuments connected to slavery and colonialism.

A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was toppled in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday night.

Elsewhere in the city, a statue of Columbus was pulled down, set alight and thrown into a lake a day earlier.

Anti-racism protests have re-ignited debates over US historical monuments.

Memorials to the Confederacy, a group of southern states that fought to keep black people as slaves in the American Civil War of 1861-65, have been among those targeted by demonstrators taking to the streets after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

A three-meter tall (10ft) bronze statue of Italian explorer Columbus was also toppled in Saint Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday.

Statues of Columbus in Boston, Massachusetts, and in Miami, Florida were also vandalized. The one in Boston, which stands on a plinth at the heart of town, was beheaded.

Many people in the US celebrate the memory of Columbus, who in school textbooks is credited with discovering “the New World”, the Americas, in the 15th Century.

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

A vandalised statue of Christopher Columbus in Downtown Miami, Florida
Image captionBLM – denoting Black Lives Matter – was sprayed on a Columbus statue in Miami

The death of Mr. Floyd, whose neck was kneeled on by a police officer for nearly nine minutes, has spurred global protests against police brutality and racial inequalities, led by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Many cities and organizations have taken steps to remove Confederate symbols, which have long stirred controversy because of their association with racism.

People gather around a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis defaced with paint after it was torn down, in Richmond, Virginia
Image caption videos show crowds cheering as a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was towed away in Richmond

Last week, for example,

However, a judge has since granted a temporary injunction stopping the removal of the statue.

saying they remain part of America’s heritage.

 

He tweeted: “The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”

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