In Nashville, Tennessee and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, statues of people criticized for racist views – but without Confederate ties – were targeted during Saturday night’s riots.
Protesters in Nashville toppled Saturday a statue of Edward Carmack, a state lawmaker in the early 1900s and newspaper publisher who had racist views and wrote editorials lambasting the writings of prominent Tennessee civil rights journalist Ida B. Wells, The Tennessean reported.
My favorite desecration was this statue of avid racist Edward Carmack who nearly got Ida B Wells lynched. It's Nashville! Put a statue of Loretta Lynn out there and throw this in the garbage. pic.twitter.com/KjDLJJfyFk
— Cynthia O'Laoghaire (@RoseWrites) May 31, 2020
“Carmack was a politician in the early 1900s who wrote editorials lambasting the writings of prominent Tennessee civil rights journalist Ida B. Wells,” according to MSN.com
“He was fatally shot in 1908 by a political rival.”
According to Tennessee Encyclopedia, Carmack, among other things, was a leader in the state’s temperance movement, served in the Tennessee General Assembly in the 1880s, and, afterwards, pursued a career in journalism. While in that field, Carmack developed a close relationship with newspaper owner Duncan Brown Cooper. Voters later elected Carmack to the U.S. House of Representatives and then the U.S. Senate.
Cooper and Carmack later had a falling out over the issue of prohibition. Carmack used his position as editor of the Nashville Tennessean to belittle Cooper, according to The Tennessee Encyclopedia.
“Outraged by such comments, Cooper sent a stern warning to Carmack to halt his attacks. Carmack, however, ignored these threats and continued to malign his former friend,” The Tennessee Encyclopedia reported.
“The situation came to a head on November 9, 1908, when Cooper and his son Robin encountered Carmack on a downtown Nashville street. Fearing an ambush, Carmack fired on the pair, wounding the younger Cooper. Robin Cooper returned fire, killing Carmack instantly.”
Tennesseans soon favored prohibition and erected the statue of Carmack in the early 20th century, according to The Tennessee Encyclopedia.
As The Tennessee Star reported, several thousand protestors descended upon Nashville’s Legislative Plaza Saturday on behalf of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis while in police custody. Many protestors carried signs demanding that the government either defund or abolish the police. The crowd, composed of whites and blacks, chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace” many times over.
Later in the day, and after Saturday’s rally, protestors resorted to violence — by vandalizing the Metro Courthouse and, later, parts of downtown Broadway.
Nashville law enforcement officials arrested a total of 28 people during Saturday’s riots or after that night’s 10 p.m. curfew, according to the Metro government’s website.
Metro Nashville Police, as of Monday, determined that the protestors left 30 damaged businesses and buildings in their wake.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Photo “Edward Carmack” by Kenneth C. Zirkel CC4.0.