After more than a century of towering over Richmond, Virginia’s Monument Avenue, a 12-ton statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will come down Wednesday.
Preparations to remove the controversial statue will begin Tuesday night, according to a news release posted on the government-run VaMonument2021 Facebook page.
The removal will cap more than a year of disputes over the statue.
Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam had said last June he would remove the statue, which has been a focal point for protesters who say the leader of the pro-slavery Confederacy should not have a place of honor in modern, diverse Richmond.
Northam’s action has been opposed by many who say the governor is sacrificing history and heritage on the altar of political correctness.
Court battles sought to stop the removal, but last week, the Virginia Supreme Court turned aside those efforts, according to CNN.
The Lee statue will come down Wednesday. On Thursday, plaques on the side of the 40-foot granite pedestal upon which the statue sits will be removed, the VaMonument2021 news release said.
The statue will go into storage until state officials can figure out what should be done with it.
Andrew Morehead with the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said the monument is not just a statue of one man.
“I think the monument to Lee is not necessarily a monument specifically to Robert E. Lee, but I think what it represents, to me and, arguably, what it represented to folks around the turn of the century, was a tribute to all of the soldiers that served very nobly and honorably under General Lee,” Morehead said, according to WRIC-TV.
“It is history, it is something that is very important,” he said.
Morehead said he hopes the monument will go to someone who can display it properly.
“The next step in my eyes is for some type of agreement be made where this monument is given to folks who will preserve it. Place it on private land and have it there in perpetuity, as it was originally intended,” he said.
“Per our charge, we are an organization that is committed to preserving the true history and honor of the American Confederate veteran,” Morehead added. “In that, we don’t need a statue to go look at.”
More photos of the Robert E Lee statue in Richmond, Va Tuesday morning. Many people out getting last pictures of the statue, just a day ahead of it’s removal on Wednesday. @CBS6 pic.twitter.com/ZDraRczd7o
— Matthew Fultz CBS 6 (@matthewfultztv) September 7, 2021
The pedestal will remain in place pending a decision on what will be allowed to replace Lee, whose statue was the largest Confederate monument in the country, according to the VaMonument2021 release.
“The statue was installed in 1890, a generation after the Civil War, during the historical movement that sought to undo the results of the war by other means,” the post said.
“Virginia’s largest monument to the Confederate insurrection will come down this week,” Northam said in the release. “This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a Commonwealth.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, also a Democrat, added, “We are taking an important step this week to embrace the righteous cause and put the ‘Lost Cause’ behind us. Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy. We are a diverse, open, and welcoming city, and our symbols need to reflect this reality.”
The city of Richmond already removed statues of Gens. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart and naval commander Matthew Maury. A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was pulled down by a mob of rioters.
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