Virginia removed the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E Lee from Richmond’s famous Monument Avenue this week, more than a year after the order from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
The massive 12-ton, six-story monument was erected in 1980, and served as one of the U.S.’s largest monuments to the short-lived Confederacy. Civil rights activists have long called for its removal, citing that it is a symbol of slavery and white supremacy. Demands for its removal came to a head following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the subsequent nationwide — and worldwide — racial justice protests.
The statue was deconstructed nearly one week after Virginia’s state Supreme Court allowed for it to be taken down after several legal battles. The statue was cut into pieces to be dismantled, and will be held in a secret location until officials decide what best to do with it. The statue is the sixth and final Confederate statue to be removed from Monument Avenue.
“Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney in a statement. “We are a diverse, open and welcoming city, and our symbols need to reflect this reality.”
Hundreds cheered as the statue came down in Richmond. Governor Northam said it would make Virginia a more “welcoming state with inclusiveness and diversity.”