George Floyd protesters: Virginia demonstrator critically injured after being hit by toppled Confederate statue

George Floyd protesters: Virginia demonstrator critically injured after being hit by toppled Confederate statue
Photo credit: Brett Hall / Twitter

A man attending a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Portsmouth, Virginia, has been critically injured as protesters toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier. 

Eyewitnesses have said the statue hit the man on the head as it fell. 

In footage shared by local journalist Brett Hall, one witness claimed part of the man's skull was visible.

"We were taking down the Confederate monument and there was an individual in the front pulling at a cord... they had been trying to get it down," the man, who the reporter described as the president of a local Black Lives Matter group, BLM757, explained.

"There was a gentleman directly in front of the statue, and when the statue finally did give way it came and fully hit him in the head. We could see that his skull was actually showing. He was convulsing on the ground, he lost [a lot] of blood. 

"We're just asking everyone to pray for that man right now." 

In a later tweet, Hall said BLM757 and Portsmouth NAACP organisers had encouraged bystanders to leave the area, with the remaining few at the scene helping to clear up debris.

Louie Gibbs, the vice president of the Portsmouth NAACP, told local outlet The Virginian-Pilot that the injured man, who was in his 30s, lost consciousness and was taken to hospital.

Protesters first beheaded the four Confederate statues at the Portsmouth Confederate monument before toppling one with a tow rope. A marching band played in the nearby street and other demonstrators danced in celebration of the dismantled monument, according to The Virginian-PilotA flag tied to one of the statues was then lit on fire.

The monument sits at a site where slaves were punished on a whipping post, a history professor confirmed the outlet in a 2017 article.

The alleged murder of African-American man George Floyd has fuelled the recent Black Lives Matter movement, an international campaign against systemic racism and violence towards black people. 

Floyd, 46, was arrested on suspicion of forgery in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. Footage taken by an onlooker captured Caucasian police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for roughly eight minutes until he lost consciousness, despite the man's continued pleas for air. Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after, with recent autopsy results confirming he died due to asphyxiation. 

All four officers involved in Floyd's death have been fired and charged. 

Chauvin, who has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, faces a maximum of 40 years behind bars. The three other officers involved - Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao - have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. On Wednesday afternoon (local time), Lane was granted conditional release from prison after posting US$750,000 bail.