Protesters calling for the removal of a D.C. statue of President Abraham Lincoln and a freed Black man held a peaceful rally Friday near the statue.
U.S. Park Police stood guard while hundreds of people listened to emotional pleas to take the statue down.
“It represents white superiority," one speaker said.
The statue in Lincoln Park, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, is called the Emancipation Memorial and sometimes the Freedman’s Memorial. It depicts an African-American man in a loincloth kneeling at the president’s feet. It’s that depiction, not the people who are shown, that critics have called offensive and paternalistic.
Several African-American historic reenactors participated in the rally, including a Frederick Douglass stand-in played by Nathan Richardson. He pointed out that formerly enslaved people paid for the statue in the 1870s but had no creative input on the design.
“They should have had the person standing,” Richardson said.
Marcus Goodwin, a candidate for D.C. Council, agreed.
“If this was inverse, if it was a white man kneeling to a Black man, the statue never would have been commissioned," he said.
Later in the evening, demonstrators argued with far-right activist Jack Posobiec and escorted him out of the park.
Concrete barriers and 8-foot-tall fencing were installed Thursday night around the statue, which sits on federal land. President Donald Trump has threatened arrest and up to 10 years in prison for anyone who damages a statue on federal land.
Earlier this week, some locals said they wanted to see careful consideration of what happens to the statue.
"It’s beautiful but demeaning," said Angie White, who lives in the area. "They need to take it down and it probably should be put in a museum somewhere because of the craftsmanship. But as a Black woman, I’m tired of seeing us at a lower level."
Resident Dione Shears said she did not want to see demonstrators topple the statue.
"We may have come to the time where this statue should come down, but I don’t want to see this statue come down with a rope. It needs to be brought down with dignity," she said.