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The Protests Spark a Growing Battle Over History



Photo of a toppled Jefferson Davis statue
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The statues keep falling. In the United States, Confederate monuments are swiftly being toppled after decades of inertia and debate. Spurred by the moral outrage of the Black Lives Matter protests, municipal authorities across the country have ordered century-old statues commemorating defenders of slavery to be removed. In some instances, protesters have taken matters into their own hands.
But things didn’t just stop with the Confederacy. In numerous cities, activists have targeted statues of Christopher Columbus, the Genoese explorer who, in the service of the Spanish crown, launched a new age of European colonialism when he reached the New World in 1492. His career is checkered by wanton acts of cruelty and tyranny; his legacy has come to represent for many a whole history of indigenous dispossession, exploitation and genocide.

In Boston, a statue of Columbus was found beheaded on Wednesday morning. Another Columbus statue in Richmond — where a whole series of monuments is now set to fall — was thrown into a lake. And in St. Paul, Minn., indigenous activists threw a rope around a 10-foot bronze statue of Columbus on the grounds of the state capitol and dragged it off its pedestal. Authorities did not intervene as the statue came tumbling down, and activists danced in a circle around it, singing native songs.
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