John C. Calhoun Statue Taken Down from its Perch above Charleston’s Marion SquareBreaking News
tags: racism, secession, monuments, public history, Protest
With a diamond band saw and a giant crane, a weary crew of workers Wednesday afternoon plucked the 12-foot-tall bronze statue of John C. Calhoun from its towering perch over Charleston’s Marion Square and lowered the divisive effigy to the ground amid a chorus of cheers and songs.
The removal took more than 17 hours, much longer than city officials expected.
The sculpture of Calhoun stood for nearly 124 years on a metal base, set like a puzzle piece into a hole cut out of the top of the stone column. The monument to the former vice president and fierce defender of slavery was thought to be set with a layer of epoxy that ran inches deep. A long metal lightning rod embedded in concrete ran through the column, from Calhoun’s right shoe 115 feet to the ground.
All this made for a daunting cross section of granite, concrete, epoxy and metal that tested the saw’s diamond-encrusted wire for hours.
Then, at 5 p.m., as the work crews made their final adjustments, a nearby church’s bells chimed “Amazing Grace.”
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said moments later: “Like racism, he was deeply rooted in there.”
The removal happened nearly 23 hours after a unanimous City Council voted to send the Calhoun statue to a place of study and learning. It’s unclear where. For the moment, it will be placed in storage, city officials said.