Lee statue in Richmond set to be removed, sent to storage

Crews are set to remove one of the country’s largest remaining monuments to the Confederacy, a towering statute of Robert E

Via AP news wire
Wednesday 08 September 2021 06:04
Confederate Monuments Lee Statue
Confederate Monuments Lee Statue

Crews are set to remove one of the country’s largest remaining monuments to the Confederacy a towering statute of Robert E. Lee in Richmond Virginia.

The 21-foot-tall (6.4-meter) bronze likeness of Lee on a horse will be hoisted off its 40-foot (12- meter) pedestal Wednesday, 131 years after it was erected in the former capital of the Confederacy as a tribute to the Civil War leader.

While many saw the statue as an offensive glorification of the South’s slave-holding past, public officials had long resisted its removal, along with residents of Virginia who argued moving the monument would be akin to erasing history.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans to take down the statue in June 2020, 10 days after George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, sparking nationwide protests against police brutality and racism. The plans were stalled for more than a year by two lawsuits filed by residents opposed to its removal, but rulings last week by the Supreme Court of Virginia cleared the way for the statue to be taken down.

“This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a commonwealth," Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release announcing final plans for the removal.

The work is slated to begin early Wednesday. A large crane will be used to hoist the 12-ton (11 metric-ton) statue off its pedestal. The sculpture is expected to be cut into two pieces for transport, although the final plan is subject to change, said Dena Potter, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of General Services.

After the statue is taken down, crews on Thursday will remove plaques from the base of the monument and will replace a time capsule that is believed to be inside.

In Richmond, a city that was the capital of the Confederacy for most of the Civil War, the Lee statue became the epicenter of last summer’s protest movement. The city has removed more than a dozen other pieces of Confederate statuary on city land since Floyd’s death.

Given that the statue is one of the largest and most recognizable Confederate monuments in the country, its removal is expected to draw a crowd and a heavy law enforcement presence.

Limited viewing opportunities from an area nearby will be available on a first‐come, first‐served basis, state officials said. The removal also will be livestreamed through the governor’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Lee statue was created by the internationally renowned French sculptor Marius-Jean-Antonin Mercie and is considered a masterpiece, according to its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places where it has been listed since 2007.

When the monument arrived in 1890 from France, an estimated 10,000 Virginians used wagons and rope to haul its pieces more than a mile to where it now stands. The statue was the first of five Confederate monuments to be erected on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, at a time when the Civil War and Reconstruction were over, but Jim Crow racial segregation laws were on the rise.

The Northam administration has said it would seek public input on the statue’s future. The pedestal will be left behind for now amid efforts to rethink the design of Monument Avenue. Some racial justice advocates don’t want it removed, seeing the graffiti-covered pedestal as a symbol of the protest movement that erupted after Floyd’s killing.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in