Amid Riots, University of Alabama Prof. Advises How To Tear Down Monuments

Monument - Vandalism
People stand near the Robert E. Lee monument on Monument Ave. in Richmond, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Protesters the night before had defaced this and the other statues on the historic street. (Photo: Bob Brown, Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

As riots and protests rage throughout the US following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a University of Alabama Birmingham professor took to Twitter to tell protesters how to successfully pull down monuments.

Sarah Parcak, who works as an Egyptologist, tweeted a detailed description of how to pull down a monument – specifying an obelisk that “might be masquerading as a racist monument” – complete with a diagram.

An obelisk is a type of monument originating in Ancient Egypt, and the famous Washington Monument in Washington, DC is one of its most iconic modern incarnations.

“The key to pulling one down is letting gravity work for you,” she explained. “Chances are good the obelisk extends into the ground a bit, so you want to get CHAINS NOT ROPE… extended tightly around the top… and 1/3 down forming circles.”

She added that 40+ people would be needed for every 10 feet of monument and specified the length of the rope as well as standing positions for setting up the process.

Regarding actually pulling the monument down, “You have two groups, one on one side, one opposite, for the rope beneath the pointy bit and the rope 1/3 down. You will need to PULL TOGETHER BACK AND FORTH. You want to create a rocking motion back and forth to ease the obelisk from its back,” Parack explained.

“Just keep pulling till there’s good rocking, there will be more and more and more tilting, you have to wait more for the obelisk to rock back and time it to pull when it’s coming to you. Don’t worry you’re close!”

After watching it fall, the next step is to “celebrate. Because #BlackLivesMatter and good riddance to any obelisks pretending to be ancient Egyptian obelisks when they are in fact celebrating racism and white nationalism.”

Parack then added that she did not mean to pull down actual ancient Egyptian obelisks, and then uploaded a hand-drawn rough schematic.

The tweet comes as cities across the country are experiencing protests and riots following the death of Floyd, an unarmed African-American who died when a police officer knelt on his neck, effectively strangling him, according to autopsy reports.

The riots have seen massive destruction and looting, with many monuments being vandalized or destroyed, such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, which sits across the reflective pool from the Washington Monument.

While it may be the most famous obelisk, Parcak insisted in a tweet that she was not referring to the Washington Monument, and implied that she was actually referring to a monument in Birmingham, Alabama. This obelisk was later moved after protesters failed to pull it down, USA Today reported.

Many assumed that Parcak was instructing protesters on how to pull down Confederate monuments in the South, with one such statue in Birmingham memorializing Confederate Charles Linn was torn down following her instructions, the Washington Times reported, citing local sources.

Parcak has also been vocal about the “deeply racist, colonialist and nationalist” roots of Egyptology, and has apologized for not coming to the defense of African-Americans sooner.

In a statement obtained by the Washington Times, the University of Alabama Birmingham did not comment on Parcak’s opinions or if they would affect her position there.

“These are not the opinions of the university. Our 45,000+ students, faculty and staff often use social media to express thoughts that do not necessarily reflect the voice of the university. If a public comment by a member of the campus community needs to be addressed by Student Affairs or Human Resources, it would be. However, personnel and student conduct matters are addressed privately between the individual and the institution,” the university’s public relations director Tyler Greer said.

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