Washington (AFP) - Work crews acting on the orders of the mayor took down a second statue on Thursday of a Confederate military figure in Richmond, the Virginia city that was the capital of the pro-slavery Civil War South.
The statue of Matthew Fontaine Maury, a Confederate naval officer, was seen in televised footage being lifted off its stone base by a crane and placed on a flatbed truck.
A statue of a Confederate general, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, was taken down in Richmond on Wednesday as a campaign to remove Confederate symbols gathers momentum across the country.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the "immediate removal" on Wednesday of Confederate statues on Monument Avenue in order to "expedite the healing process for the city."
The mayor said that as the Southern capital during the 1861-65 Civil War, Richmond has been "burdened with that legacy."
"The great weight of that burden has fallen on our residents of color," Stoney said. "These statues, although symbolic, have cast a shadow on the dreams of our children of color.
Stoney called the move a "down payment" rather than a "solution" to racial injustice in the city and across America.
A statue of Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War, on Monument Avenue has become a focal point for recent protests and has been covered in slogans such as "Black Lives Matter."
The Lee statue belongs to the state, however, not the city.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has ordered its removal "as soon as possible."
Several Confederate monuments have been pulled down in the past few weeks by demonstrators protesting police abuse of African Americans.
President Donald Trump has opposed their removal and the Department of Homeland Security announced a special new task force on Wednesday to protect historic monuments.
In Jackson, Mississippi, the state flag was permanently lowered from the state's capitol on Wednesday. The Mississippi state flag was the last US state banner featuring a Confederate emblem.
The campaign to remove Confederate monuments gathered momentum after a white supremacist shot dead nine African Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 and picked up again following the May 25 death of George Floyd, an African American man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
The NASCAR race car franchise last month banned the display of the Confederate flag at its events and four portraits of 19th century lawmakers who served in the Confederacy were removed from the US Capitol.
A Republican-led Senate committee approved an amendment last month requiring the Pentagon to rename 10 US Army bases named after Confederate military figures.
According to historians, most of the hundreds of Confederate monuments dotting the South were erected during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation and in response to the civil rights movement.