A man has been crushed while taking part in the pulling down of a Confederate statue in the United States.
Crowds cheered as the tall structure was ripped from its concrete base in Portsmouth, Virginia, but excitement quickly turned to horror when protesters realised a man was beneath it at the time.
A large group of people were filmed sitting around the statue Wednesday evening (local time), as controversy of the statue being removed escalated, news site WTKR reported.
Disturbing footage showed the concrete object toppling from its stand before hitting the man.
Clapping and cheering could be heard as the statue gradually fell, but screams sounded shortly after when protesters realised what had happened.
The man has reportedly been taken to hospital for treatment. One of the witnesses told WAVY News that he saw the man’s skull after he was struck.
“We could see that his skull was actually showing, he was convulsing on the ground, he lost a lot of blood,” he told a reporter at the scene.
“We’re just asking everybody to pray for that man right now.”
Public outcry intensified after the president and vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were arrested earlier that day.
The pair were taken into police custody for trespassing after covering the statue with a tarp - a measure condoned by the local government.
They were released about 30 minutes after being detained without charge, but Vice President Louie Gibbs said it was “disappointing” they were arrested in the first place.
“It’s disappointing. It’s disheartening. But somebody’s going to do what’s right, even if it starts with us,” he said.
The outrage is a sign of continued turmoil following the death of George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of former police officer Derek Chauvin.
Mr Floyd was laid to rest this week after a public viewing was held in his native Houston, Texas, which attracted hundreds of people over a period of six hours.
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