Virginia to pull down statue of Confederate General Lee

A towering statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is due to collapse on Wednesday.

It’s more than 130 years after it was built in Richmond, Virginia as a tribute to a Civil War hero who is now widely regarded as a symbol of racial injustice.

Governor Ralph Northam said, “Virginia’s largest memorial to the Confederate Uprising will fall this week.

“This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as the Commonwealth.”

The imposing 21-meter-high bronze image of Gen Lee on horseback sits on a granite plinth in the grassy center of a roundabout on Richmond’s famous Monument Avenue.

Mr Northam announced plans to dismantle the statue in June 2020, 10 days after George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, sparking nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.

The plans were blocked for more than a year by two lawsuits from local residents opposed to its removal, but the Virginia Supreme Court rulings last week paved the way for the statue’s removal.

In Monday’s press release, state officials said preparations for the statue’s removal will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, when crews will install protective fences.

Once the statue is lifted from its pedestal, it is slated to be cut in half for transportation, though the final plan may change, said Dena Potter, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of General Services.

After the statue is dismantled on Wednesday, the crews will remove plaques from the base of the monument and replace a time capsule believed to be there.

In Richmond, a city that was the Confederation capital for much of the Civil War, the Gen Lee statue became the epicenter of last summer’s protest movement.

The city has removed more than a dozen other Confederate statues on city land since Mr. Floyd’s death.

As one of the largest and most recognizable Confederate statues in the country, the removal of the statute is expected to attract large crowds.

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