Statues of Confederate leaders that have adorned Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, for generations are going to be history soon, as leaders in Virginia are using the protests linked to the death of George Floyd as a reason to exile the statues from their historic, prominent locations.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney on Wednesday said he will seek to take down statues of Confederate leaders that are on city property, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Lee’s statue is on state land, while monuments to Confederacy President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart are on city land.
Also on city property is a statue to Matthew Maury, who had a prestigious career in nautical research prior to the Civil War, but later served as a Confederate officer.
State Del. Jay Jones, a black lawmaker from Norfolk, said he was “overcome” by emotion when he learned the statue would come down.
“That is a symbol for so many people, black and otherwise, of a time gone by of hate and oppression and being made to feel less than,” he said.
Northam will shunt Lee’s statue into storage until some other place for it can be found, an unnamed administration official told the AP.
Stoney said his ordinance to topple Confederate statutes will be introduced July 1, the effective date of a new state law that ends state protection for Confederate monuments and allows local governments to decide whether they stay or go.
“[R]emoving these statues will allow the healing process to begin for so many Black Richmonders and Virginians,” Stoney said in a statement. “Richmond is no longer the Capital of the Confederacy – it is filled with diversity and love for all – and we need to demonstrate that.”
The plan drew competing reactions.
First they burn down the nation and now they erase a piece of American history: Virginia governor announced he will remove the Richmond statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. #RobertELee https://t.co/WSmT0MJsTL
— SpanishAmerican2020 (@Gunowner47) June 3, 2020
Historic day for Richmond. After days of protest, the confederate statues will be removed. pic.twitter.com/8LWGJzrq6x
— Maggie (@MaggieMaps) June 3, 2020
Gov. Northam is a weak, spineless individual. Those who ignore history, it in this case remove history, are destined to repeat it.
Virginia Gov. Northam to order removal of Robert E. Lee statue in Richmondhttps://t.co/8ZZoWBO8PV
— Old Man Liberty (@old_man_liberty) June 3, 2020
Joseph Rogers, an organizer with the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, supported removing the statues.
“I am proud to be black, proud to be Southern, proud to be here right now,” he said.
Monuments to the Confederacy have been a target in the current national environment shaped by protests and riots that have taken place after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In Alexandria, Virginia, a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier titled “Appomattox” was taken down this week, Fox News reported. In Birmingham, Alabama, a five-story tall obelisk honoring Confederate troops is being removed.
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