As anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests continue in the US, protesters have torn down, set on fire and submerged a statue of another notorious figure in the history of slavery, Christopher Columbus.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Richmond, Virginia’s Byrd Park Tuesday night where, after several speeches, the eight-foot statue of Columbus was torn down with ropes at around 8.30pm local time. Police did not intervene.

It was also briefly set on fire, before the irate crowd dragged it to a nearby lake, and spat on it as it sank into the murky depths, as eyewitness video from the scene shows.

“We have to start where it all began – we have to start with the people who stood first on this land,” activist Chelsea Higgs Wise said, addressing those at the event.

The statue was replaced with a sign that read: “Columbus represents genocide.” It was reportedly the first statue of Christopher Columbus erected in the South and was dedicated in December 1927.

Last week, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam confirmed that a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee in Richmond would be removed and placed in storage, as the anti-racist sentiment reached fever pitch across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.

A statue of the Confederate captain and founder of the city of Birmingham, Alabama, Charles Linn, was torn down and defaced earlier this month.

The movement to tear down statues of historical oppressors and slave traders has gathered pace across the globe, with petitions in Belgium for the removal of statues of King Leopold gathering huge attention.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a raging debate has been ignited and one statue has been torn down and another decommissioned, with many more earmarked for removal or destruction, either by protesters or by government officials.

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