A Confederate monument that had stood in the town square of a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, for more than a century has been removed.
Hundreds of people watched as a crane moved in and took down the stone obelisk as midnight approached.
The Lost Cause monument, which was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1908, was lifted from its base with straps amid jeers and chants of “Just drop it!” from onlookers in Decatur, who were kept at a safe distance by sheriff’s deputies.
Mawuli Davis, a driving force behind lobbying to remove it, watched with others as it was slowly lowered on to its side and slid on to a waiting flatbed truck.
Mr Davis’s organisation, the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, had held a demonstration in front of the monument a day earlier, pleading for its removal.
“This feels great. This is a people’s victory. All of our young people from Decatur High School that made this happen. All of these organisers, everybody came together,” he told the Associated Press.
“This is it. This is a victory for this country. This is an example of what can happen when people work together.”
The confederate monument in @DowntownDecatur was erected in 1908 to remind Black people that our lives didnât matter. Everyday it remains says that our lives still donât matter. Dismantling white supremacy requires the uprooting & removal of the false history which supports it. pic.twitter.com/x3qITWJ9aJ— Mawuli Davis (@MawuliMDavis) June 18, 2020
Groups such as his and Hate Free Decatur had been pushing for the obelisk to be removed since the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The monument was among those around the country that became flashpoints for protests over police brutality and racial injustice in recent weeks, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
The city asked a Georgia judge last week to order the removal of the monument, which was often vandalised and marked by graffiti, saying it had become a threat to public safety.
DeKalb County Judge Clarence Seeliger agreed, and ordered the 30ft (9m) obelisk in Decatur Square to be removed by midnight on June 26 and placed in storage indefinitely.
His order came hours before a white Atlanta police officer fatally shot another black man, 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, in the back, sparking renewed protests in Georgia’s capital region.
Instead, the monument came down on the eve of Juneteenth – the holiday celebrating the day in 1865 that all enslaved black people learned they had been freed from bondage – as workers chipped it loose and the crowd cheered.
Megan Beezley, who rushed to the square with her daughter after hearing about the removal from a Facebook post, said: “It’s always been troubling to see that monument over there on the square. We spend a lot of time up here and it’s troubling that our friends and our loved ones and other people of colour have to look at that monument to slavery and to the Confederacy.”
DeKalb County had spent several years trying to rid itself of the monument.
A marker added last September said the obelisk was erected to “glorify the ‘lost cause’ of the Confederacy” and has “bolstered white supremacy and faulty history”.