The pedestal of the Robert E. Lee statue in the Virginia capital has been completely removed

The pedestal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Va. Was removed entirely on Friday, ending a divisive saga over a Confederate memorial that has dominated the city for 130 years.

By the end of New Years Eve, workers had hauled each piece of the 40-foot-high pedestal away from Monument Avenue and leveled the ground. No part of the statue, first erected in 1890, had remained standing on Saturday morning.

Mike Spence, the project’s construction supervisor overseeing 21 workers, told local news channel ABC 8 that his team spent 1,300 hours getting up and down scaffolding to remove stones and transport them.

“The hours are the blood, sweat and tears of it,” Spence said, according to the outlet.

Crew workers also helped find and remove two time capsules, one of which was described in a 19th century newspaper article and contained historical artifacts including books, coins and ammunition. , during the withdrawal process. One of the capsules was found in the pedestal and the other below.

The statue is one of many commemorations of former Confederate generals that have been withdrawn in recent years amid a nationwide reckoning over history and race.

A proposal to bring down a similar statue of Lee in Charlottesville, Va., In 2017 prompted opponents of his withdrawal to stage the murderous “Unite the Right” rally, in which white supremacists chanted “You shall not replace us. », Before confronting each other. with the counter-demonstrators.

After George Floyd died in Minneapolis in 2020, plans to remove the Richmond statue began before he was tied up in court. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled in September 2021 that it could be removed, and the statue was removed from the pedestal days later.

The 21-foot statue of Lee is heading towards the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia in Richmond, NPR reported.

“Symbols matter, and for too long, Virginia’s most important symbols have celebrated the tragic division of our country and the camp that fought to keep the institution of slavery alive by any means possible.” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said in a statement to NPR.

“Now it will be up to our thoughtful museums, informed by the people of Virginia, to determine the future of these artifacts,” Northam continued.

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