Madison police say a group of about 200 to 300 people took control of a towing vehicle and tore down the Forward and Hans Christian Heg statues at the State Capitol overnight.
The Forward statue was left in the middle of State Street, while the Heg statue was beheaded, dragged down the street, and thrown into Lake Monona by the group.
Police say the group also broke several windows in the downtown area, including at the City-County Building, where a Molotov cocktail was also thrown into the building. Police say pepper spray was used within the State Capitol when people tried to force their way inside there.
The Forward statue has been outside the State Capitol since the 1890s, serving as an emblem of the progress for women in the state.
Protesters say they took the statue down because they don’t feel the state is moving forward.
“We’re not moving forward, we’re moving backwards,” said Ebony Anderson-Carter. “This (statue) doesn’t need to be here until we’re ready to move forward.”
Anderson-Carter says she and the other protesters want to see something done about racial injustice in the state, and speak with the state’s Black youth.
“The Capitol is where we solve problems, and nobody’s coming here to solve problems,” said Anderson-Carter.