Rabu, 08 September 2021

Virginia Confederate general Robert E Lee statue removed in Richmond after Supreme Court court decision - ABC News

A crowd erupted in cheers as work crews hoisted a statue of US Confederate general Robert E Lee off the giant pedestal where it has towered over Virginia's capital city for more than a century.

One of America's largest monuments to the Confederacy, the equestrian statue was lifted down to the ground just before 9:00 am (local time), after a construction worker who strapped harnesses around Lee and his horse lifted his arms in the air.

A work crew then began cutting it into pieces.

"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," said Governor Ralph Northam, who was there to witness the event.

The Democrat said it represents "more than 400 years of history that we should not be proud of," and congratulated Virginians for supporting its removal.

Sharon Jennings, an African American born and raised in Richmond, said the statue had to go, but she still had mixed feelings seeing it come down.

"It's a good day, and it's a sad day at the same time," Ms Jennings, 58, said.

Crews gently lower the torso of Confederate General Robert E Lee
Calls for the statue to be removed reignited after George Floyd's death.(

AP: Steve Helber


"It doesn't matter what colour you are, if you really like history, and you understand what this street has been your whole life and you've grown up this way, you're thinking, 'Oh, my God.' But when you get older you understand that it does need to come down."

Mr Northam ordered the statue taken down last summer, citing the pain felt across the country over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.

But his plans were tied up in litigation until the Supreme Court of Virginia cleared the way last week.

The six-metre-high bronze sculpture sat atop a granite pedestal nearly twice that tall, towering above Monument Avenue since 1890 in this former capital of the Confederacy.

The state brought in a deconstruction crew surrounded by a heavy police presence to strap the statue to a crane.

"This is a historic moment for the city of Richmond. The city, the community at large is saying that we're not going to stand for these symbols of hate in our city anymore," said Rachel Smucker, 28, a Richmond resident who was at the viewing site early on Wednesday with her sister.

The public watch crews work to remove one of the US's largest remaining monuments to the Confederacy
Crowds gathered to watch the statue get removed.(

AP: Steve Helber


The one-of-a-kind piece, valued for its artistic quality, stood among four other massive Confederate statues on the avenue, but the city removed the others last summer.

"We put things on pedestals when we want people to look up," Mr Northam said in June 2020 when he announced the removal plan.

"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."

The statue was being cut into at least two pieces so that it could be hauled to an undisclosed state-owned facility until a decision is made about its final disposition.

The pedestal is to remain for the time being, although workers are expected to remove decorative plaques and extricate a time capsule on Thursday.

After Mr Floyd's death, the area around the statute became a hub for protests and occasional clashes between police and demonstrators.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, and the public watch work crews work to remove a Confederate statue
Ralph Northam ordered the statue to be taken down.(

AP: Steve Helber


The pedestal has been covered by constantly evolving, colourful graffiti, with many of the hand-painted messages denouncing police and demanding an end to systemic racism and inequality.

The decisions by the Governor and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney to remove the Confederate tributes marked a major victory for civil rights activists, whose previous calls over the decades to remove the statues had been steadfastly rebuked by city and state officials alike.

A previous wave of resistance to the statues came in 2017 when a rally of white supremacists in the city of Charlottesville erupted into violence.

Other Confederate monuments started falling around the country.

But in Virginia, local governments were hamstrung by a state law that protected memorials to war veterans.

That law was amended in 2020 by the new Democratic majority at the statehouse and signed by Northam. With the changes that took effect on July 1, 2020, localities could decide the monuments' fate.


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2021-09-08 21:00:35Z

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