WASHINGTON — D.C.'s only outdoor Confederate statue was torn down and burned by protesters on Juneteenth, right outside MPD headquarters. The statue, of Brigadier General Albert Pike, was one of 18 Civil War monuments in D.C. that has stood in Judiciary Square since 1901.
Just before 10:30 p.m., a group gathered outside MPD headquarters, unfurling a "defund the police" banner and throwing ropes around the statue of General Albert Pike -- attempting to topple it. Less than an hour later, the statue came tumbling down, where protesters lit it on fire and watched it burn.
The statue did not injure anyone when it fell.
"There is no one who will speak up for Albert Pike," Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said. "We usually don’t take statues down this way, there was a better way to take it down. But if anybody's statue deserved to be taken down in the nation’s capital, Pike’s statue deserved to come down."
Police arrived around 11:30 p.m. and put out the fire.
After flames on the statue had been extinguished, the DC Council tweeted out the members had been trying to remove the statue since 1992.
"We want these statues to be taken down and displayed in museums so the story behind them can be told," Norton said. "This is the united states -- we don’t destroy our past, we learn from our past."
Despite the commotion to end the night, D.C.'s Juneteenth commemoration was peaceful, but filled with a sense of urgency. Energy pulsed through the District Friday, despite intermittent rain and thunderstorms, as joy mixed with demands for change this Juneteenth. Dozens of demonstrations highlighted the systemic issues impacting the Black community, from disparities in education to personal experiences of police brutality.
Some expressed themselves through dance, others recited poetry or shared their own testimonies, including Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal who detailed his experience of racial profiling.
The Lincoln Memorial served as a fitting backdrop for a day that married history and the fight for human rights.