One of the largest statues honoring Confederate generals in America came down Wednesday. Officials in Richmond, Virginia removed a statue of Robert E. Lee. The video above shows the statue coming down, as well as comments from Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring.
The 21-foot sculpture sat atop a granite pedestal nearly twice that tall. It had been standing since 1890.
Virginia officials brought in a deconstruction crew surrounded by a heavy police presence to take down the statue. State, capitol and city police officers closed streets for blocks around the statue by using heavy equipment and barriers to keep away crowds and possible protestors.
The statue was being cut into at least two pieces so that it could be hauled to a state-owned facility until a decision is made as to where to put it. Gov. Northam has said his administration will seek public input on that matter.
The pedestal will stay in place for the time being. However, workers are expected to remove the decorative plaques and take out a time capsule in the area on Thursday.
“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,” Northam said. He was on hand to witness the removal. Northam said the statue represented “more than 400 years of history that we should not be proud of”.
Northam ordered the statue taken down last summer, citing the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and subsequent nationwide protests. “We put things on pedestals when we want people to look up,” Northam said when announcing the removal plan last June. “Think about the message that this sends to people coming from around the world to visit the capital city of one of the largest states in our country. Or to young children.”
Virginia residents filed two separate lawsuits attempting to block the removal of the statue. However last week, Virginia’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously to allow the statue to come down, saying it “communicates principles that many believe to be inconsistent with the values the Commonwealth currently wishes to express”.