New Orleans protesters throw statue of slave owner into the Mississippi River

Protesters watched as the Mississippi River swallowed a stone bust of a slave owner that they toppled from its spot in a New Orleans plaza.

New Orleans police arrested two individuals they said drove the statue of John McDonogh from Duncan Plaza to Jax Brewery on Saturday to dump it in the river, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

Caleb Wassell, 27, was charged with inciting a riot and other crimes, police said. Michela Davis, 31, was charged with assaulting a cop and other crimes.

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New Orleans police said they the person in the photo is being sought for vandalizing a statue to a slave owner after a protest against racism.<br><br>
New Orleans police said they the person in the photo is being sought for vandalizing a statue to a slave owner after a protest against racism.<br><br>
(New Orleans Police Department)

Police released a photo of a man in a black t-shirt they said was the instigator in the vandalism. He was still being sought on Sunday.

“The pictured subject began to damage the statue with a hammer and spray paint, which eventually was pulled to the ground,” police said.

Those who brought down the statue in the plaza Saturday had participated in a “Take Back Pride” motorcade protest against police brutality, systemic racism, violence against black trans people, discrimination, and other issues, the paper reported.

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Protests in New Orleans and other cities began in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd while in police custody. A video of Floyd’s arrest shows a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, despite Floyd saying he couldn’t breathe and then becoming unresponsive.

The word “RACIST” was scribbled in red under McDonogh’s name on the statue, with an inscription honoring him crossed out, the paper reported.

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Fox 8 New Orleans said McDonogh was a wealthy landowner and benefactor who had many slaves. He left the bulk of his fortune to the city of New Orleans to create public schools.

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