A group gathered at Linn Park in Birmingham Sunday afternoon shortly after a nearby rally held in honor of Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died in police custody on Memorial Day after a police officer was seen in the now-viral video with a knee to his neck for several minutes.
People used a rope to pull down a statue of Charles Linn, the park’s namesake who was a captain in the Confederate Navy and later one of the founders of Birmingham. The toppled bronze statue was also covered in graffiti, Fox 6 Birmingham reported.
A crowd unsuccessfully also tried to use rope and chain attached to a pickup truck to pull down a large, granite Confederate monument across the park. Though the rope broke, and the monument remained erect, protesters pulled away the plywood barricade covering the monument’s base. They chipped away at the writing etched into the stone and further vandalized the monument with spray paint.
“We’ve got a lot of cities around the country. They’re tearing down Target. They’re tearing down city hall. We can’t do that. We gotta protect our city,” Johnson began, according to AL.com.
“We can’t tear down 16th Street Baptist Church. We can’t tear down the civil rights museum. We can’t tear down Carver. We can’t tear down A.G. Gaston Plaza,” he continued, naming areas of the city commemorating the black community and civil rights movement.
“But what I’m not telling you to do is walk to Linn Park,” Johnson said. “I’m not telling to walk to Linn Park after this rally. I’m not telling you to tear something down in Linn Park. I’m not telling you that I’m going to be over there after this rally.”
Police at Linn Park looked on and did not intervene until Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin arrived at the park to address protesters using a megaphone. Woodfin, who is black, directed the protesters to disperse to avoid being arrested once he sends the police in.
“I understand the frustration and the anger that you have,” he said. “Allow me to finish the job for you.”