WASHINGTON — Protesters returned to the Emancipation Monument on Friday evening to continue calls for the statue's removal.
The Freedom Neighborhood organized the gathering after holding a similar event on Tuesday. However, on Friday, the statue was surrounded by barricades and fencing.
The Emancipation Monument was erected in 1876 and paid for by former slaves.
Protesters who spoke to WUSA said they believed the landmark served as a symbol of racism and played into racial undertones that Black people were inferior to whites.
"When we look at this statue, we don’t see fair representation," Marcus Goodwin, a candidate for DC Council who spoke at the protest, said. "We don’t see a man who is dignified standing alongside the magnanimous emancipator, Abraham Lincoln. We would like to see the statue removed and put into a museum."
Eugene Beckley watched the speeches while sitting nearby on his bike, which had a Black Lives Matter poster tied on the front.
Over 140 years after it was built, Beckley said he agreed the statue needed to come down.
"I feel it’s a little dated, it’s archaic," he said. "I don’t think it’s right anymore. I don’t think it’s the right type of image to be presenting. I think a democratic process is what we need to do."
Following several speeches supporting the removal of the statue, things turned heated when two older men voiced support for the landmark.
One man, a local tour guide, criticized protesters since he believed they did not know the history of the statue.
"A lot of people are out here are talking about tearing something down that they don’t even know the history of," he shouted. "You don’t even know the history of this statue but you want to tear it down.”
Rally at Emancipation Monument
Another man, who claimed he was a descendant of the former slave featured with President Abraham Lincoln on the statue, said the landmark played an important role in telling the story of slavery in America.
"Too much of our history has been destroyed and has been redacted," he said. "This man was an inspirer. He’s not a destroyer. You don’t burn. You don’t destroy. You build.”
Despite calls from the Freedom Neighborhood to tear down the statue earlier in the week, organizers said they would not publicly advocate for the destruction of the monument.
Moving forward, one protester who supported the statue's removal said it was important for people to find common ground.
"We all are one people," he said. "That’s what we need to come together."