The group, roving in San Francisco Friday night, also toppled a statue of Junipero Serra, a Roman Catholic priest.
Video footage captured on the ground showed the vandals using a strong cord to pull down the Serra statue in Golden Gate Park. People recently started pushing for the statue to be removed, claiming Serra was involved in a “genocide” against Native Americans.
The Hispanic Council said Saturday that officials witnessed with sadness the tearing down of Serra, describing him as the first Hispanic saint in the country.
“He served the native community, evangelizing the local populations and providing them with jobs, education and food,” in the missions he founded in California, the council said. The attack on Serra “lacks historical rigor,” it added.
Vandals then tore down a statue of Francis Scott Key, who penned a poem that became the National Anthem. One video taken at the scene shows a group of people, all dressed in black, cheering as a cord is used to pull the statue down.
Another statue taken down from the area was one of Grant, a key figure in U.S. history.
Grant helped win a slew of battles against the during the Civil War and forced Confederate General Robert E. Lee to surrender in 1865. Grant went on to serve as the nation’s 18th president and, according to the White House, worked to “remove the last vestiges of slavery.”
Grant, accused by some activists of being a slave owner, received one slave from marriage but freed him about a year later.
Police officers were seen in the background while statues were being removed but did not appear to try to stop the activists.
The San Francisco Police Department said in an emailed statement that officers responded to the area around 8:15 p.m. after receiving a report of an unplanned protest.
“Officers arrived and observed several hundred people vandalizing structures and statues. Officers requested additional resources from neighboring district stations. As emergency backup arrived the crowd turned on police and began throwing objects at the officers,” it said.
“At approximately 9:30 PM the group began to disperse in several directions. No arrests were made and no injuries were reported.”
Mayor London Breed’s office and the National Park Service didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The statues’ destruction came after city officials removed a statue of Christopher Columbus, an explorer credited by some with discovering America, from its pedestal at Coit Tower on Thursday.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated where and when Francis Scott was when he wrote a poem that became the National Anthem. He was on a ship during the War of 1812. The Epoch Times regrets the error.