Don Sweeney, The Sacramento Bee, June 21, 2020
Protesters marking Juneteenth on Friday in Golden Gate Park toppled and defaced several statues, including one of Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, KPIX reports.
Grant, a former U.S. president, led Union forces to victory in the Civil War but owned a slave before the conflict, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. He freed the man in 1859.
Other statues toppled by protesters honored Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California mission system blamed by many for oppressing Native Americans, and Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and a slave owner, The Mercury News reported.
Protesters also spray-painted a statue of “Don Quixote” author Miguel de Cervantes, who was himself a slave at one point, KPIX reported.
In a statement, Mayor London Breed said she understands “the very real pain in this country rooted in our history of slavery and oppression, especially against African-Americans and Indigenous people,” KPIX reported.
“But the damage done to our park last night went far beyond just the statues that were torn down, and included significant damage to Golden Gate Park,” Breed said, according to the station. “Every dollar we spend cleaning up this vandalism takes funding away from actually supporting our community, including our African-American community.”
Confederate statues across the South have been toppled or removed for safekeeping, while Christopher Columbus statues have been knocked down or defaced in several cities during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody on Memorial Day.