Protesters in northeast Portland vandalized and tore down a statue of George Washington Thursday night.
The protesters graffitied the statue, spray painting phrases like "f—k cops," "Big Floyd," and "1619"—a reference to the year slaves were first brought to Virginia. They then wrapped an American flag around Washington's head and lit the flag on fire before pulling down the statue with ropes.
Thursday marked the 21st day of protesting against racial injustice and police brutality in Portland, following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. On Wednesday, a group in the city tried establishing their own autonomous zone in the city’s Pearl District—imitating the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle—but were disbanded by police. Portland protesters toppled a statue of Thomas Jefferson on Sunday.
Protesters have targeted statues of Washington and Jefferson because both presidents owned slaves. In 2017, President Donald Trump expressed concern that protesters would call for the removal of Washington and Jefferson statues, after they demanded the removal of monuments to Confederate leaders.
"Is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?," Trump said in a press conference at Trump Tower in New York City. "You have to ask yourself where does it stop?"
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has called for the removal of statues and images on Capitol Hill related to the Confederacy. In the past few weeks, protesters across the country have destroyed statues of Christopher Columbus, as well as Confederate monuments, including a statue of Jefferson Davis. Protesters in Philadelphia graffitied a statue of abolitionist Matthias Baldwin.
A statue of George Washington has been pulled down with ropes at NE 57th & Sandy near the German American Society. #koin6news #PDXprotests #protest2020 #Portland #BlackLivesMatter #BLMPDX #BLM #Oregon #Investigation #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #vandalism #spraypaint #statue #rosecity pic.twitter.com/xmWYtpcbJE
— Jennifer Dowling (@JenDowlingKoin6) June 19, 2020