Richmond, VA – Crews arrived at 8 a.m. ET Wednesday morning to complete what has been a long saga involving the removal of the Confederate Robert E. Lee statue in Virginia’s capital city.
The 21-foot bronze statue depicting Lee on horseback sat atop a pedestal nearly 40-feet in height in a prominent residential boulevard. The statue had been in the former Confederacy’s capital since 1890.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said “this was a long time coming, part of the healing process so Virginia can move forward and be a welcoming state with inclusiveness and diversity. It represents more than 400 years of history that we should not be proud of.”
Statues comes down after legal battle
The removal of the statue by a Black-owned construction company was met with cheers and singing as the crowd that gathered watched the statue be hoisted to the ground.
NOW: Crowd chanting “hey hey hey, goodbye” as officials remove the Robert E. Lee Monument in Virginia —
the country’s largest Confederate statue pic.twitter.com/PFswiZCwXM
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 8, 2021
Gov. Northam announced his desire to remove the statue back in June of 2020, but was immediately met with litigation surrounding his plans. Virginia had a state law that protected memorials to war veterans. That law was amended in 2020 by the Democratic majority in Virginia and signed by Gov. Northam.
The case reached all the way to Virginia’s Supreme Court, with the Court ruling unanimously last week that Northam’s plans to remove the statue could move forward.
Statue being moved to secure facility
The statue will be cut into smaller pieces according to a news release and placed in a secure storage at a state-owned facility until a decision is made on its further disposition.
“The past 18 months have seen historic change, from the pandemic to protests for racial justice that led to the removal of these monuments to a lost cause,” Northam said in a statement Tuesday. “It is fitting that we replace the old time capsule with a new one that tells that story”.