Virginia Protester's Head Cut Open by Confederate Soldier Statue Pulled Down on Top of Him

As protests over the death of George Floyd continue, a demonstrator in Portsmouth, just outside the Virginia state capital of Richmond, was severely injured when hit in the head by a Confederate monument as it was torn down on Wednesday.

The protester, believed to be in his 30s, lost consciousness after being struck by the monument as it toppled over, Portsmouth NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Vice President Louie Gibbs told The Virginian-Pilot.

The toppled monument was a statue of a Confederate soldier, according to a reporter for Portsmouth's WAVY-TV, Brett Hall, who shared images of the scene on his official Twitter account Wednesday saying: "What had a party atmosphere 15 minutes ago now is filled with crime tape."

The president of Black Lives Matter 757, Aubrey JaPharii Jones, who witnessed the collapse, told WAVY-TV: "There was a gentleman directly in front of the statue. When the statue finally did give way...it fully hit him in the head. His skull was actually showing and he was convulsing on the ground. He lost a great amount of blood."

The man was hospitalized and sustained serious injuries, Sergeant Misty Holley of the Portsmouth Police Department confirmed.

Portsmouth Police Department Chief Angela Greene told reporters that no order from her was given for officers to ignore the destruction of property. She noted an elected official directed them to let the vandalism occur and that no arrests were to be made.

The soldier statue was part of a Confederate monument featuring three other statues that were also pulled down on Wednesday.

Protesters began pulling down the monument around 8:20 p.m. local time using a rope which later snapped, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Flames burned briefly at the base of one of the statues after a flag tied to the monument was reported to have been set on fire.

Portsmouth police warned residents to avoid the area of the monument in a post on its official Twitter account just after 10 p.m. local time saying: "The Portsmouth Police Department is asking all citizens to avoid the area of Court Street at High Street as they disperse demonstrators and investigate an incident that resulted in a citizen getting injured."

The crowd was said to have thrown bricks at the monument before starting to dismantle it piece by piece, while a marching band played and other protesters danced.

Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander issued a statement regarding protests in Norfolk following the latest incident in Portsmouth, noting: "While we welcome peaceful demonstrations at the monument at Commercial Place, we want people to understand that the size of the monument, it stands at 80 feet, does not lend itself to safe removal without the use of a truck mounted construction crane.

"Out of an abundance of caution, anyone who attempts to scale the monument will be removed in the interests of their own safety," he added.

In Richmond, around 80 miles from Portsmouth, a Jefferson Davis statue was also torn down by protesters. A large crowd formed at the scene and cheered as Richmond police towed the statue away.

Earlier this week, a statue of Christopher Columbus in downtown Richmond was knocked down by protesters at Byrd Park. The monument was spray-painted and set on fire before being thrown into a lake, NBC12 reported.

On Saturday, a statue of Confederate leader Williams Carter Wickham in Richmond's Monroe Park was toppled. The monument's now-empty pedestal was scattered with Black Lives Matter slogans, NBC12 reported.

Stonewall Jackson statue Richmond Virginia 2017
A statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia pictured on September 15, 2017. Getty Images