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Professor tweets how to topple ‘racist’ monuments like Washington Monument – then backtracks

The Washington Monument in Washington D.C. (Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
June 01, 2020

On Sunday a Twitter-verified professor and self-described Egyptologist posted a thread of tweets insinuating rioters could topple obelisk monuments and described instructions for just that scenario.

“PSA For ANYONE who might be interested in how to pull down an obelisk* safely from an Egyptologist who never ever in a million years thought this advice might come in handy,” tweeted Sarah Parcak. “*might be masquerading as a racist monument I dunno.

The Washington Monument in Washington D.C. is one of the most well-known obelisk monuments in the country and many users who viewed her tweets expressed concern that she was referring to that monument.

Parcak referenced her “bona fides” as an Egyptologist who has studied how obelisks, like the Washington Monument, have been raised and lowered.

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“The key to pulling one down is letting gravity work 4 you. Chances are good the obelisk extends into the ground a bit, so you want to get CHAINS NOT ROPE (it’s 2020 AD not BC let metal work for you) extended tightly around the top (below pointy bit) and 1/3 down forming circles,” she tweeted. “For every 10 ft of monument, you’ll need 40+ people. So, say, a 20 ft tall monument, probably 60 people. You want strong rope attached to the chain—rope easier to hold onto versus chain. EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE WEARING GLOVES FOR SAFETY (there is a lot of safety first).”

In another tweet, Parcak said, “WATCH THAT SUMBITCH TOPPLE GET THE %^&* OUT OF THE WAY IT WILL SMASH RUN AWAY FROM DIRECTION.”

“Then celebrate,” she added, “Because #BlackLivesMatter and good riddance to any obelisks pretending to be ancient Egyptian obelisks when they are in fact celebrating racism and white nationalism.”

She even included a stick-figure schematic of her instructions.

“Here’s a rough schematic. I note this is experimental archaeology in action! Just my professional Hot Take and you may need more people, longer rope, etc. everything depends on monument size,” she said.

“BUT OF COURSE THIS IS ALL ENTIRELY HYPOTHETICAL,” Parcak added towards the end of her thread. “ALSO PLEASE DO NOT PULL DOWN WASHINGTON MONUMENT.”

Parcak instead suggested demonstrators, armed with her instructions, could bring down a similar obelisk monument in Birmingham, Alabama, likely referring to a Confederate monument.

Parcak’s only specific references to the Birmingham monument come near the end of her tweet thread after all of her instructions and despite her late instructions to spare the Washington Monument, some commenters on her tweets raised concerns about the instructions being used to topple the monument in DC.

Other commenters mentioned reporting Parcak, and linked to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Twitter has recently begun the practice of marking tweets they claim are “glorifying violence.” Twitter recently marked a tweet by President Donald Trump, talking about using the National Guard to stop ongoing riots. Twitter has since been criticized for allowing tweets from users like Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has tweeted about attacking Israel.

Following Parcak’s Twitter thread, demonstrators did attempt to topple statues in Linn Park, in Birmingham, Ala.

Protesters used a rope to bring down the statue of Confederate Navy captain Charles Linn after defacing it.

Protesters also tore down a plywood barrier surrounding Birmingham’s obelisk monument.

“The plywood is down,” Al.com journalist Anna Beahm tweeted along with videos of the vandalism.

Helicopter footage spotted fires burning near the Washington Monument on Sunday night.

“Smoke from multiple fires rising up in front of the Washington Monument #Chopper4 looking south from Maryland, White House center screen,” tweeted NBC Washington reported Brad Frietas.

Several other monuments around the National Mall in Washington D.C. were also vandalized on Sunday, including the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.