San Francisco Protesters Tear Down Union General Ulysses S. Grant's Statue

Protesters in San Francisco, California, toppled a statue of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the U.S. who led the Union Army during the Civil War, among other monuments at Golden Gate Park on Friday.

Video footage and images shared on social media showed the statue of Grant being torn down on Juneteenth, which celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the U.S.

Nearly 400 protesters were reported at the scene around 8:30 p.m. local time, according to police, who did not engage with the demonstrators. No arrests were made, NBC Bay Area reported.

The statues of St. Junipero Serra, the first saint of the Roman Catholic Church to be canonized in the U.S., and Francis Scott Key, the author of the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner," were also torn down at the park on the same day.

Reacting to the news, several social media users condemned the toppling of Grant, who was believed to have owned a slave before the start of the Civil War, noting the former president helped to end slavery by leading the Union Army of the North.

Grant had a complicated relationship with slavery, according to an article by Sean Kane, an interpretation and programs specialist at The American Civil War Museum.

Back in 1848, Grant married into a slave-owning family condemned by his abolitionist father. Grant was said to have owned a 35-year-old slave named William Jones, whom he purchased from his father-in-law, but gave Jones freedom in 1859.

Grant initially took an ambivalent stance towards slavery, according to a letter he wrote in 1863. "I never was an abolitionist, not even what could be called anti-slavery," he wrote to his friend and patron, Elihu Washburne.

"Grant may have been initially ambivalent to the institution of slavery," Kane wrote on the civil war museum's website, "but his wartime experiences showed him that it was morally and practically indefensible and that African Americans would not only make strong allies in defeating the Confederates, but respected citizens in the reunited nation to follow.

"As the 18th President of the reunited nation, he was an advocate and defender of the freedmen's newly acquired rights...In his memoirs Grant wrote, 'As time passes, people, even of the South, will begin to wonder how it was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in man.'"

The three statues in San Francisco join a host of other monuments that have been torn down in recent days amid ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd last month.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died shortly after being pinned to the ground with a knee on his neck during an arrest made by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department. The officers involved have since been charged over Floyd's death.

On Friday, protesters in Washington D.C. were reported to have torn down a statue of Confederate General Albert Pike and set it on fire near the Washington D.C. police headquarters.

Two Confederate monuments were also dismantled Friday in downtown Raleigh in North Carolina, including one which was dragged through the street before being abandoned on the courthouse steps.

On Thursday night, a statue of George Washington, the first president of the U.S., was torn down by a group of people in Portland, Oregon.

A U.S. flag was seen burning at the head of the statue before it was toppled using a rope.

Another U.S. flag was seen burning over the statue after it was pulled to the ground. The statue was spray-painted with the words "genocidal colonist."

Protests continue across the country following the death of Floyd, which sparked a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and renewed outcry against police brutality and racism.

San Francisco protesters, George Floyd, June 2020
Protesters hold signs and chant during a demonstration to honor of George Floyd on June 03, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images