A sixty foot statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee loomed over Richmond, Virginia since 1890. On Wednesday morning, it was removed (watch above), the latest sign that symbols associated with White Supremacy are falling out of favor in the United States.
A crowd of onlookers chanted, “na, na, na, na. Hey, hey, hey, goodbye” and “Black Lives Matter” as worked hoisted the massive statue from its pedestal.
NOW: Crowd chanting “hey hey hey, goodbye” as officials remove the Robert E. Lee Monument in Virginia —
the country’s largest Confederate statue pic.twitter.com/PFswiZCwXM
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 8, 2021
“It’s electrifying,” one witness told CNN. “It’s bittersweet. I’m glad to see it down, but I would like to see more progress on issues such as police brutality and housing inequality.”
The New York Times provides more context:
The Lee statue was erected in 1890, the first of six Confederate monuments — symbols of white power that dotted the main boulevard in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy. On Wednesday, it was the last of them to be removed, opening up the story of this city to all of its residents to write.
“This city belongs to all of us, not just some of us,” said David Bailey, who is Black and whose nonprofit organization, Arrabon, helps churches with racial reconciliation work. “Now we can try to figure out what’s next. We are creating a new legacy.”
“This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a commonwealth,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said in a statement earlier this week. Northam had ordered the removal of the statue last June, as the nation grappled with the racial implications of George Floyd’s murder.
And not a moment too soon. Who we lionize as a society is a reflection of our principles and values. Confederate monuments celebrate racial subjugation, division and betrayal. We can recall and remember without revering. https://t.co/wgvaXQK1dW
— Janai Nelson (@JNelsonLDF) September 8, 2021
Two lawsuits temporarily derailed Northam’s plans, but the Virginia Supreme Court approved the removal last week, writing, “The Commonwealth has the power to cease from engaging in a form of government speech when the message conveyed by the expression changes into a message that the Commonwealth does not support even if some members of the citizenry disagree.”