Protesters said they are planning to topple a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the capital meant to commemorate his 1863 proclamation freeing enslaved people in the rebel states at the height of the Civil War.
The Emancipation Memorial, erected in 1876 in Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill, has long drawn criticism for its paternalistic imagery of a standing President Lincoln looming over a kneeling black man and his broken shackles. The planned attempt to remove the statue, originally set for Thursday, comes as protesters across the country have taken aim at statues of slave owners, Confederate leaders and purveyors of white supremacy.
Demonstrators who want the bronze statue gone gathered Tuesday evening in Lincoln Park to condemn its design, which they say implies that it was only Lincoln’s benevolence, and not the efforts of black people, that ended American slavery. Later, in an Instagram post, organizers said they would converge on the statue on Friday evening instead.
“As a black man, when I see that statue, I see that my freedom and liberation only lies with white people,” said Glenn Foster, 20 years old, of Montgomery County, Md., an organizer of the Tuesday rally.
Organizers said they planned to return in force to pull the statue off its granite pedestal, and authorities said they were ready to counter the effort. Several dozen officers from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Park Police watched over demonstrators Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, the Army said it was activating 400 members of the D.C. National Guard, at the request of the Interior Department, to help guard government property and monuments in the capital.