“Bring That Sucker Down Without Anyone Getting Hurt”

Confederate statue in North Carolina

By Peter Galuszka

In a striking sign of the times, Popular Mechanics magazine has published a how-to article regarding removing statues on your own.

The article is titled: “How to Topple a Statue Using Science: Bring that sucker down without anyone getting hurt” by James Stout.

The force need to bring down a controversial statue is not all that great, Stout writes. Most statues are bronze, with an alloy of 90% copper and 10 percent tin with a maximum thickness of 3/16 of an inch. Most people statues weigh 3,500 pounds. One that includes a horse is maybe 7,000 pounds.

For a pure muscle job, you’d need about 70 people and several high-endurance recovery straps. One should be placed across the head. Once in place, you’ll need to break the statue from its base. This can be done by two teams on either side of the statue working a back and forth motion.

As for safety, this isn’t that big a deal as long as you have done the proper geometry.

If you don’t have many protestors, you can do the job using a high temperature approach with home-made thermite. Propane torches are also good.

Protestors have already safely disposed of several statues in Richmond, including ones involving Confederate figures as well as Christopher Columbus.

Gov. Ralph Northam wants the state-owned statue of Robert E. Lee removed from Monument Avenue but that one faces obstacles. Its removal has been delayed by lawsuits and it weighs a whopping 12 tons and is quite tall. The Washington Post reports that when Northam aides looked for a Virginia-based firm to remove it, no one wanted the job.

State laws change July 1 to allow localities to remove Confederate statues without General Assembly approval. Expect a bunch to come down quickly. Sone are easy jobs because they are attached to their stands by a single bolt. Communities such as Farmville haven’t waited for the state law and have gone ahead with removals.

Where the statues go is another question. Expect them to be packed off temporarily in warehouses. They may resurface in special parks for them. I like the idea of putting some at the federal battlefield park site at Appomattox.

The Popular Mechanics article, which seems to have been written tongue-in-cheek, has drawn broad protests for allegedly promoting anarchy.

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40 responses to ““Bring That Sucker Down Without Anyone Getting Hurt”

  1. What do you think, Peter. Is it OK for protesters to ignore the legal process and pull down statues?

  2. “Where the statues go is another question. Expect them to be packed off temporarily in warehouses.”

    What a joke… no one seriously believes for a moment that these statues will be allowed a further life, and it’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

    If they were set up in a different location, no matter where and no matter with what context, they will be attacked and vandalized again, again and again, until submission is achieved. Of course, that won’t ever happen because no amount of submission will ever be enough, will it? We know that now. It’s going to be harder and harder to pretend otherwise.

    Tearing down these statues will do nothing to assuage the grievances of the people who are ostensibly being harmed by their existence. Those problems have deep economic and cultural roots. They aren’t going to be solved in our generation, although we could at least make them smaller, but in the direction we’re now going, they are going to get worse. Tearing down the statues won’t even do anything to assuage the shrill fury of the mobs doing it; they have now become addicted to their own rage, and it really doesn’t matter what kind of gesture is made to them.

    G-d forbid, this furor could very well end in horrible bloodshed, and if it does, the media that helped gin it up will take no responsibility for their contribution. They never do.

  3. Jim,
    Please show me where I advocated crowds taking it upon themselves to remove statues. You seem to be trying to put words in my mouth. Since you ask, I back the lawful removal of the memorials. Typical for Virginia, that effort is going to be bogged down, watered down, studied once again and litigated. What you don’t seem to understand is that the protestors — mostly young– aren’t going to wait. They have enough of cop killings, screwy responses to the pandemic, the falling economy and the overweening horror of the Donald Trump Administration. I am sure that the BR trolls will once again trash my personal character, but that shows what kinds of people they really are.

    • In other words, yes. Yes, you are advocating crowds taking it upon themselves to remove statues. You can do that by commission or omission, you can do that by encouraging them or by (as you did above) providing information to help them, you can do that many different ways. You can do it proudly, or (as you did here), you can do it and then pretend loudly that you would never do such a thing and take risible umbrage at the suggestion.

      But yes, you are advocating that crowds take it upon themselves to attack statues. No one is fooled anymore.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Mr. Peter I would never trash your character. If I did I do so apologize. I like you. I do disagree with your ideas and beliefs. But I need to hear them. It helps me to understand the other side of the coin that I don’t always flip over to see. I think Popular Mechanics was irresponsible for putting that out. This is no time for tongue in cheek unless you have a plug of Mail Pouch. I know a great deal about young people. Many are patient and willing to participate in the great democratic experiment. Some are not patient and it explains a great deal about why they fail and will fail time and time again.

  4. Anonymous. This is nonsense. You mean by noting the Popular Mechanics article, I am advocating vandalism? So I should pretend it does’t exist?

    • Yes, by republishing the article on BR with your obvious approval, you are obviously advocating for the use of the information therein. Don’t want to advocate for vandalism? It’s as easy as not publishing a HOW-TO manual while adding your own gleeful commentary. (“Protestors have already safely disposed of several statues in Richmond….”)

      Do you really think you can piss on my feet and tell me it’s raining?

    • While Thermite itself is legal, the components to actually make it are not. The Aluminum required to make it is classified as an explosive by the BATF, so in essence you’re promoting the use of an illegal substance. Perhaps, you should be reported for this action.

  5. in terms of where to put them – put them at the locations where the confederate flags are flown along the interstates. Put them in Confederate Museums , put them in businesses that want them there.

    no problem.

    • I’ll take a George Washington statue for my property.

      And a Calvin Coolidge, assuming a statue of silent Cal even exists.

      They’re ALL coming down eventually, so I thought I’d file my claim now.

      If the “protesters” will just let me know when my statues will be delivered, I’ll have foundations/bases ready for them when they arrive.

      Oh, and you know what, what the heck – I’ll take a Robert E. Lee, too . And no, I do not fly a confederate flag on my property. I fly a U.S. flag (Grand Union version), a Virginia flag, a Culpeper Minutemen flag, and a Navy Jack. Perhaps one of those will offend someone – I can only hope.


      • I don’t think they’re “all” coming down – by a long shot.

        for instance, this one:

        • My mistake. My statement was too general. I assumed people would understand what I meant by “all”, but clearly I was mistaken.

          So here goes: “Every statue of every biologically male person of European descent who has ever held a position of power, honor or esteem in this country is coming down eventually”.

          How’s that?

          • it’s better. But even then, I think there are memorials to people that are purely for their contributions to mankind or society as opposed to “achievements” of a person or a political realm.

            I am not on the side of the “destroy all statues” but I’m trying to really understand these perspectives which are complicated.

            I read today that Native Americans consider Mount Rushmore to be abomination and insult to their people – that they opposed it from the get go but were steam-rollered by the forces that wanted it.

            I’ve read about those who want this statues taken down:


            “In 1919 Charlottesville unveiled an impressive statue honoring Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacajawea. At the time, even including Sacajawea was probably a bold idea, and the statue was praised as an inspiring work of public art. As time passed, however, the public grew less fond of the statue, which portrayed Sacajawea as hunched below Lewis and Clark — sculpture shorthand for “subservient.”

            By the 21st century the statue’s critics were demanding action. The statue couldn’t be changed, and Charlottesville didn’t want to scrap it, so in 2009 the city invited two Sacajawea descendants to write text for a conciliatory plaque, which was placed next to the statue.”

            One needs to ask – what is this about?

            the main thing for me – is to not just defend my own perceptions but to accept those of others.

          • LarrytheG

            You wrote: “the main thing for me – is to not just defend my own perceptions but to accept those of others.”

            Okay, so you’re accepting of everyone else’s perceptions. Good for you.

            But what will you do when one of the grievance-mongering groups whose perceptions you accept claims to be egregiously aggrieved by the perceptions of one of the other grievance-mongering groups whose perceptions you accept?

          • I don’t accept them 100% unilaterally, but I do not dismiss them out of hand either. If a large number of people say they are offended and they are not my color or culture – I take that seriously, just as seriously as if I went to another country and was told I was saying or doing something they considered insulting.

            When I hear phrases like “grievance-mongering”, I’m already wondering if those folks have already segregated themselves from other folks of color or culture – even worse than not listening.

            This is a problem the world over. We have classes of humans, races, and cultures that hurt and kill each other over race, culture etc. It’s wrong.

  6. My obvious approval? That is your imagination. My lead paragraph says this is a sign if the times. That’s my point if you need it spelled out.

    • And my point is that your disingenuity now borders on deceit. Well, that makes sense: if you set out to defend the deceitful (and make no mistake, the pretense of the vandals that they are improving the situation is entirely deceitful), you will end up joining them.

      I won’t be replying to any more of your comments or posts here at BR.

  7. Anonymous. I could care less if you don’t respond to my posts. I have no idea who you are. At least I have the integrity to identify myself and stand up for what I write.

    • I wasn’t going to respond, but Galuszka’s insult gives me a reason to explain my anonymity to other BRistas:

      I am a Federal civil servant. I do not want to be seen publicly advocating for any political position that could be understood (even without good reason) as partisan. I do have the right within the Hatch Act to do that in most circumstances (I don’t imagine commenting on BR would be a problem for the law), but I choose not to exercise it because I don’t personally think that Federal civil servants _should_ be allowed to do that.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        Anonymous is right. I remember getting the long lecture from the Manassas Battlefield Superintendent about the Hatch Act when I was a seasonal park historian. He was not fooling around either. No sense in drawing attention to yourself Mr. Anonymous.

  8. “The Washington Post reports that when Northam aides looked for a Virginia-based firm to remove [the Lee statue], no one wanted the job.” Gee, I wonder why? Couldn’t simply whisk that one away quietly in the middle of the night.

    • Couldn’t? 13.5 kilotons — Like a million dollars, it would solve a lot of Virginia’s problems.

      “We can do that – but it would be wrong.”

  9. It’s not just who but how. The teddy roosevelt statue at New York’s history museum is offensive because it shows Teddy on a horse with a forlorn Native American and an Afro-american supplicant under him. I really like Teddy personally . He’s one of my favorite presidents.

    • Interesting. Do you have any idea why he (and they) are depicted that way?

      There were Native American members of the Rough Riders ( I don’t know about black member).

  10. yes – here’s that statue:

    ask yourself what is this supposed to convey – especially if you are a native American or an African American? what’s the theme here?

  11. How about a 25-year moratorium on new statues of anyone on public property?

    • Don’t need a moratorium. Just need to make sure that it has widespread support across society – whites , blacks, Hispanic, native Americans, etc.

      This is not hard unless we insist.

    • I think the only solution is to never again name any public facility after anyone, and to rename or destroy every public facility in the country which has ever been named for an individual.

      We should also tear down, remove and destroy every single monument and statue that has ever been erected to honor an individual.

      That’ll make us all equal, by gosh!

  12. I seem to remember in the not too distant past the worldwide hand wringing over the Taliban’s desecration of antiquities. Is there a parallel?

    Would these have become our antiquities? Just a thought.

    • John – are you equating one culture trying to obliterate another and ethnic cleansing with what is going on here?

      We see this not only with the Taliban but other countries – in Bosnia, Cambodia and Rwanda… right?

      Are you saying there are similarities?

  13. Harvie. Are you trying to draw a comparison between the a Black Lives Matter movement and the Taliban. If so, that’s inane nonsense. I reject it.

  14. Peter, no parallel implied or intended.

    Please unknot your knickers.

    OABTW, I don’t mind my first name being used.

  15. John. Point taken. I apologize. Petet

  16. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Mr. Peter. What about the Bill “Bojangles” Robinson statue in Richmond. First and foremost, I would never want to take this statue down. I personally admire and respect this great entertainer. I think he was a genius and a timeless tribute to a great American success story. Yet if you look at the statue you could easily draw conclusions along the lines of minstrel shows, Uncle Remus, Lillian Richards(Aunt A), and Frank Brown(Uncle B). What are you thoughts? Statue up or down? Context? I am surprised this has not come up yet.

  17. Dear Mr. Whitehead. I don’t advocate what Popular Mechanics published but found it extraordinary and that is while I noted it.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Of course Mr. Peter. I know you don’t believe in that sort of nonsense. But those tactics from Popular Mechanics were indeed deployed against Old Hickory the other night. Jackson was and I suppose remains a near bullet proof American.

  18. Well, in these times when so many Republican governors are ignoring public safety, it is the duty of those with the press to alert the public to safe procedures, like wearing masks and the correct method to end racist Confedrate idolatry.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Lt. General Jubal Early was attending a Sunday service in January of 1865. The sun was setting on the Confederacy and the preacher delivered a sermon about how one day the dead would be raised again. General Early remarked just loud enough for all to hear, “and I would conscript every G– D—-ed one of them into the army.”

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