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People gather on Legislative Plaza during a rally to protest the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Protests across the country have escalated over the death of George Floyd who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day, May 25. (Larry McCormack/The Tennessean via AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Protesters in Tennessee's capital toppled a statue of a former state lawmaker and newspaper publisher who had racist views.

The statue of Edward Carmack was brought down Saturday evening by demonstrators outside the state Capitol in Nashville, The Tennessean reported.

The protest occurred as demonstrators across the country protested the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck.

Carmack was a politician in the early 1900s who wrote editorials lambasting the writings of prominent Tennessee civil rights journalist Ida B. Wells.

He was fatally shot in 1908 by a political rival.

Gov. Bill Lee issued a statement saying he was authorizing the National Guard to mobilize. 

"At the request of Mayor Cooper, I am authorizing the National Guard to mobilize in response to protests that have now taken a violent, unlawful turn in Nashville," Lee said. "The threat to both peace and property is unacceptable and we will work with local law enforcement and community leaders to restore safety and order. This is not a reflection of our state or the fundamental American right to peaceful protest."

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