The whereabouts of a slave statue toppled by protesters and thrown into the Mississippi River in New Orleans remain unknown after a group of men fished the bust out of the river.
A video obtained by the New Orleans Advocate / The Times-Picayune shows the group using ropes and a plank to carry the paint-splattered statue of John McDonogh out of the river Sunday afternoon and loading it up on a pick-up truck. It was thrown into the river a day earlier by demonstrators after they used a chisel, rope and a skateboard to knock it down from its pedestal in Duncan Plaza.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office told the news outlet The bust is a “considered stolen property,” and is urging those in possession of it to contact the city regarding its return.
Two people who allegedly drove the bust to the river after it was toppled, Caleb Wassell and Michaela Davis, were booked on multiple charges, including theft and inciting a riot, news outlets reported.
They have since been released on bail as police continue to search for another person who hit the statue with a hammer and used spray paint on it during Saturday’s demonstrations.
When he died, McDonogh left a large portion of his money to New Orleans and Baltimore for schools, and many schools in New Orleans were named after him.
The McDonogh Day celebration in which schoolchildren across the city laid flowers at a different monument to McDonogh became the subject of boycotts in the 1950s. The ceremony was racially segregated, and African-American children would have to wait for hours for white children to lay their flowers first.
The statue’s toppling is part of a nationwide effort to remove monuments to the Confederacy or with links to slavery as the country grapples with widespread protests against police brutality toward African Americans.