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Charleston City Council To Remove John C. Calhoun Statue After Protests

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A statue of former vice president John C. Calhoun in Charleston, South Carolina is being taken down after the city council unanimously voted Tuesday to remove it.

Crowds gathered in Marion Square early Wednesday as construction crews began preparing to remove the statue, NPR reported. The Charleston Police Department said in a tweet late Tuesday night that Calhoun Street, where the statue is located, was being cleared so that crews could set up.

John Tecklenburg, the city’s mayor, announced last week at a press conference that the city council would vote on the statue’s fate, adding that local authorities were coordinating with a special panel of historians to potentially move the statue to a museum. (RELATED: University Of Mississippi To Remove Prominent Confederate Statue Near Main Building)

He also stated that the statue is not a war memorial and thus its removal would not violate the state’s Heritage Act, which prohibits the removal of war memorials in the state. He also called Calhoun the state’s “most consequential defender of slavery and white supremacy.”

Calhoun was born in 1782 and served as a U.S. senator, secretary of state and seventh vice president under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Calhoun died in 1850 and was a strong defender of slavery throughout his life, referring to the practice as a “positive good” in an 1837 speech on the Senate floor.

Black Lives Matter protestors previously gathered at the statue Monday in support of its removal. One of the demonstrations involved white protestors dressing up as slaves with makeshift whip marks on their backs while black men, dressed as slaveowners, marched them in front of the monument.

Calhoun’s statue is the latest to be removed as numerous monuments around the country have been taken down following weeks of anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. (RELATED: ‘You Can’t Whitewash History’: Rahm Emanuel Defends Ulysses S. Grant Statue)

During the initial setup Wednesday morning, large cranes could be seen attaching straps to the statue as crew workers prepared to take it down. It is currently unclear where the statue will be relocated.