A statue of former Vice President John C. Calhoun was being removed from South Carolina’s largest city on Wednesday after the Charleston City Council voted unanimously to remove it.
Video footage from local broadcasters showed a large crane being used to take the statue from its 100-foot pedestal.
Crews started early in the day but ran into a number of delays, including a breakdown of equipment being used to cut it from the pedestal, local officials told WCSC.
Calhoun held a number of positions in the federal government. He was a U.S. representative, secretary of war, vice president, secretary of state, and U.S. senator.
Calhoun was defensive of the institution of slavery, according to Senate records, and had a number of slaves during his life.
Charleston’s City Council voted Tuesday night to remove the statue, which is owned by the city but sits on private land.
The resolution references protests across the country in recent weeks that were sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody in Minneapolis.
The council “has determined that it is fitting and in the best interest and welfare of the City” to remove the statue and relocate it to “an appropriate site,” the resolution states.
“We have a sense of unity moving forward for racial conciliation and for unity in this city,” Mayor John Tecklenburg, a Democrat, said after the vote. “God bless you all.”
Hundreds of people submitted written comments in favor of removing the statue and dozens sent comments arguing it shouldn’t be removed.
Councilman Kevin Shealy said he supported the statue being removed as long as it was relocated “to a place where it can be safely displayed for those who choose to visit it.”
Councilman Keith Waring shared the belief that the city was setting an example for the nation and the world.
The statue will be moved to a museum or another location, which has yet to be determined.
Council members alleged the removal wouldn’t violate the state’s Heritage Act. Passed in 2000, the act prevents the removal, alteration, or renaming of any monument, marker, memorial, school, or street erected or named in honor of the Confederacy or the civil rights movement without a joint resolution that passes the state legislature with a two-thirds vote.
One speaker at the meeting argued against the removal, stating, “What are we teaching our children? If you do hundreds or even thousands of good deeds for the common good, you better never make any mistakes or express any opinions that can be considered objectionable.”
“We want to erase our history,” he added later.
Another speaker, speaking in support of the removal, said the city “is a place that we want to be proud of. It is a place where people should feel welcome regardless of the color of their skin, their gender, religion, creed, or their sexual orientation.
“As an African-American male, this statue represents the antithesis of those values,” he added.