Two Confederate statues in Raleigh, North Carolina were pulled down by protesters on Juneteenth, June 19, 2020. One of the statues was hung from a traffic light, while the other was dragged through the streets and taken to the doorstep of the old Wake County courthouse. Both statues were bronze soldiers that were taken from a 75-foot Confederate monument at the state Capitol during a protest on Friday night.
Demonstrators also put a Black Lives Matter sign listing the names of black people killed by police on the statue’s chest.
The statues were removed after multiple attempts, which involved police chasing protesters away on numerous occasions. There were also local citizens who gathered to "defend" the statues, and a few fights broke out as a result.
Police say that they arrested at least one person in connection with the effort to bring down the statues on Friday night.
This just the latest in a string of statues that have been removed in recent weeks, amid growing protests for racial justice.
In Richmond, Virginia, demonstrators pulled down a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. In Montgomery, Alabama, protesters removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that was outside a school that is named after the general.
In Boston, Massachusetts, a statue of Christopher Columbus was beheaded, and in Portland, Oregon, protesters toppled a statue of George Washington. These protests have also become a flashpoint for violence, as people who are in support of the statues have been taking it upon themselves to "defend" the areas.
The statues in North Carolina were taken down during a Juneteeth protest.
Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. The holiday originated in Texas, but it is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June throughout the United States, and is said to commemorate a number of different things. Specifically, it commemorates Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were free.
Since the 1980s and 1990s, the holiday has been more widely celebrated among African-American communities and has seen increasing mainstream attention in the US. In 1991, there was an exhibition by the Anacostia Museum, which is a part of the Smithsonian Institution, called “Juneteenth ’91, Freedom Revisited”. In 1994, a group of community leaders gathered at Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans to work for a greater national celebration of Juneteenth. In 1999, Ralph Ellison's novel Juneteenth was published, which greatly increased recognition of the holiday. By 2006, at least 200 cities celebrated the day.
In 2020, several American corporations and educational institutions including Twitter, the National Football League, Nike, announced that they would recognize Juneteenth as a company holiday, and promised to provide a paid day off to their workers. Also in 2020, Google Calendar added Juneteenth to its US Holidays calendar and a number of major universities formally recognized Juneteenth, either as a "day of reflection" or as a university holiday with paid time off for faculty and staff.