A man in Virginia was severely injured Wednesday night when protesters toppled a bronze Confederate statue during a demonstration in Portsmouth, according to media reports and local organizers.
Portsmouth Police Department asked demonstrators to disperse and bystanders to clear the area in a tweet shortly after 10 p.m. while officers “investigate an incident that resulted in a citizen getting injured.”
The TV station WAVY streamed more than an hour of protest footage on its Facebook page Wednesday night, including the moment the statue fell around the 43-minute mark.
In the video, protesters are seen on the ground tugging with ropes at two statues that are part of a larger Confederate monument in Portsmouth’s town square. Others climbed onto the statues and were pushing from behind, some bashing the statues with sledgehammers.
A man in a green shirt can be seen in the bottom right of the video looking away the moment one statue falls, hitting him on the head.
Black Lives Matter 757 identified the man Thursday as Chris Green, “a member of the 757 community,” according to a GoFundMe page. The organizers said the page was authorized by Green’s family to help pay for medical expenses.
They had raised more than $12,800 by Thursday afternoon.
Louie Gibbs, vice president of the Portsmouth NAACP, told The Virginian-Pilot that Green is in his 30s and lost consciousness when the statue hit him. His “head was cut open, and he was transported to the hospital,” according to the newspaper.
In an interview posted on social media, president of Black Lives Matter 757 Aubrey JaPharii Jones said Green had been standing directly in front of the statue when it fell.
“When the statue finally did give way, it came and fully hit him in the head,” he told WAVY.
Black Lives Matter 757 was expected to give an update on his condition Thursday, according to its Twitter page.
Protesters had gathered at the Confederate monument earlier in the day and spray painted it, the Pilot reported. More demonstrators arrived around 8 p.m. and someone threw “a bucket of yellow paint” on the statues, which were late beheaded.
Police were on scene but did not “step in to stop the protesters,” WVEC reported.
The demonstration occurred hours after city council members voted to discuss the fate of the monument next month, according to the TV station.
Portsmouth’s Confederate monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
According to registration paperwork, the monument — which sits on large slab of granite — is 35 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
The four statues surrounding it represent the the four branches of the Confederate service: artillery, infantry, navy and cavalry. Each statue is made of bronze and stands 5 feet 9 inches tall, the registration states.
The monument was completed in 1893 and cost $9,236.24 to construct at the time, which would be more than $250,000 today when adjusted for inflation.
Cassandra Newby-Alexander, a Norfolk State University history professor, told the Pilot in 2017 it “sits at a site where slaves were punished on a whipping post” at the intersection of Court and High streets.
In nearby Norfolk, Mayor Kenny Alexander asked protesters not to try and remove the city’s nearly 80-feet-tall Confederate monument, WAVY reported.
“While we welcome peaceful demonstrations at the monument at Commercial Place, we want everyone to understand that the size of the monument, it stands at 80 feet, does not lend itself to safe removal without the use of a truck mounted construction crane,” he said in a statement, according to the TV station. “Out of an abundance of caution, anyone who attempts to scale the monument will be removed in the interest of their own safety.”
The city plans to remove the statue by Aug. 7, the Norfolk mayor said.
Protesters and activists have called for the removal of Confederate monuments throughout the Southeast in the weeks since George Floyd’s death.
Floyd died May 25 after a now-fired white police officer in Minneapolis kneeled on his neck for close to nine minutes. The officer, Derek Chauvin, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Three additional officers who were on scene and did not intervene — Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — were also fired and arrested, charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.