BLM Crowd Sing and Cheer as Richmond’s Robert E. Lee Monument Is Removed After 131 Years and Cut In Half
Jennifer Smith and Michelle Thompson, Daily Mail, September 8, 2021
America’s largest Confederate statue – the 12-ton bronze statue of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia – was removed from its pedestal to the sound of ‘Black Lives Matter’ chants and crowds singing ‘Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye’ in the latest victory for BLM.
The 21ft bronze statute of Lee atop a horse will now be sent to the Goochland Women’s Correctional Center in Virginia until officials know what to do with it permanently. It is the latest Confederate statue to have been toppled by the BLM movement amid protest from white residents who thought it should be preserved in history.
Crews began hoisting the 21-foot-tall bronze likeliness of Lee on horseback about 8 a.m. EST and an hour later, it was on the ground, protected by a fence which kept crowds of spectators back.
After being brought to the ground, workers began severing the top of the statue from the bottom using electric saws.
Workers who were removing the statue gave the crowd a three-second countdown before they lifted the statue from its pedestal.
The crowds of spectators cheered, whooped then broke into song, chanting ‘Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye’ as it was lowered to the ground. They also chanted ‘Black Lives Matter’.
BREAKING: The Robert E. Lee statue took its last ride from its 40-foot pedestal on Monument Avenue. A moment over a year in the making, welcomed by cheers and chants from the crowd.
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) September 8, 2021
The 40ft concrete pedestal that it sat atop will remain in place for now, until officials decide what to do with it.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made the decision to remove the statue last year ten days after George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
The statue was erected in 1890, 25 years after the end of the Civil War, and 20 years after Lee’s death. It was funded by the Lee Monument Commission, founded in 1886, which was led by Lee’s nephew, former Virginia Governor Fitzhugh Lee.
Along with the statue, a time capsule that was buried at the site is also expected to be removed on Thursday and replaced with a 2021 capsule, filled with 39 ‘artifacts’ that include an expired vial of a COVID vaccine, a Black Lives Matter sticker, a ‘New Virginians booklet with portraits of 24 migrants and a ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ pride pin and sticker.
In a statement after it was removed, Gov. Ralph Northam said: ‘This was a long time coming, part of the healing process so Virginia can move forward and be a welcoming state with inclusiveness and diversity’.
He added that it represented ‘400 years of history that we should not be proud of’.
The statue had been fenced off and the roads surrounding it were closed at the start of the week in an effort to thwart crowds of protesters on both sides of the debate over removing it.
Pedestrians watched the removal in a designated area on Monument Avenue.
Northam announced plans to remove 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.
In anticipation of the statue coming down, the roads around it in Richmond were closed on Wednesday.
The plans were stalled for more than a year by two lawsuits filed by residents opposed to its removal, but rulings last week by the Supreme Court of Virginia cleared the way for the statue to be taken down.
It wasn’t immediately clear what would become of the sculpture, though some media reports indicated it would be stored until government officials determined how to dispose of it.