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Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond removed following VA Supreme Court ruling

The Virginia Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the state which wanted to take down the monument. It is the largest Confederate monument in the country.

RICHMOND, Va. — After more than a century looking over Virginia's state capital of Richmond, the Robert E. Lee confederate monument has officially been removed.

The 12-ton statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond came down Wednesday morning after the Virginia Supreme Court's ruling allowing its removal.

Gov. Ralph Northam had ordered the removal of the statue in June 2020, but faced multiple legal challenges that delayed the process. Last week, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the state, allowing the statue removal to move forward.

“I don’t think we need the statues to tell us the history," Kathy DeShazo Jackson, born and raised in Henrico County, said Wednesday.

“For me, to learn that in school, and to come down and see the statues, it’s like it was being glorified," DeShazo Jackson said.

Crews installed protective fencing along Monument Avenue and Allen Street in Richmond on Tuesday in preparation for the statue's removal.

A public viewing area was set up to the east of the monument site, where civilians cheered as the confederate statue was removed from its pedestal just before 9 a.m.  

Crews split the monument into two pieces before taking it away on a flatbed trailer, The trailer rode down Monument Avenue just before 2 p.m. 

“After 133 years, the statue of Robert E. Lee has finally come down — the last Confederate statue on Monument Avenue, and the largest in the South," said Northam. "The public monuments reflect the story we choose to tell about who we are as a people. It is time to display history as history, and use the public memorials to honor the full and inclusive truth of who we are today and in the future.”

Northam added that the Lee statue, the largest Confederate monument in the country, was put up in 1890, at a time when southern states worked to reinforce White supremacist systems and structures.

The statue will be stored at a state-owned facility until a decision is made about what to do with it. 

Before its removal, the Virginia Department of General Services removed more than 80 memorials placed at the foot of the monument, and have since been taken over by the Virginia Library. 

On Thursday, crews will remove the plaques from the base of the monument and replace a time capsule believed to be located at the site.

“It’s something that’s been long overdue," Richmond resident Sheryl Bradford said. 

The 40-foot granite pedestal will stay for now, while the Richmond community comes together to reimagine Monument Avenue. It's an effort spearheaded by city officials and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

 Browse photos from the removal process on Wednesday below:

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