A former vice president is about to fall. Early Wednesday, a crew began removing a statue of John C. Calhoun, a defender of slavery who served as the seventh US vice president from 1825 to 1832, from its pedestal in Charleston, SC, following a Tuesday city council vote. The council unanimously approved a resolution to relocate the statue. Mayor John Tecklenburg announced the resolution last week, saying a panel of historians would decide where the statue will be moved, reports NPR. "We have a sense of unity moving forward for racial conciliation and for unity in this city," he said after the vote, per CNN. "The statue has served as a symbol of division in our community," said Councilmember Peter Shahid. "We need symbols that unite us, that bring us together not tear us apart."
WCIV reporter Desirae Gostlin watched as the statue was draped in straps attached to a crane shortly before 4am local time. Soon after, crews began sawing at the statue's base, more than 100 feet above Marion Square. Tecklenburg said the move came "after careful consideration of the facts of Mr. Calhoun's life." He said Calhoun was "South Carolina's most prominent national statesman" and "its most consequential defender of slavery and white supremacy," per NPR. CNN reports the former VP owned 80 slaves of his own. A former secretary of state and secretary of war, Calhoun died 11 years before the start of the Civil War, reports WYFF. Tecklenburg said he would prefer that the statue be placed in a setting where it could be displayed in its full historical context. (Yale previously scrubbed Calhoun's name from a residential college.)