After standing for 131 years, a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia will be finally taken down on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.
In Monday’s news release, state officials said that preparations for the statue’s removal will begin at 6 p.m. with crews installing protective fencing.
“Virginia’s largest monument to the Confederate insurrection will come down this week,” Northam said in a news release on Monday. “This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a commonwealth.”
Back in June 2020, Northam first announced his plans to remove the statue 10 days after George Floyd was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd’s death sparked protests against police brutality, racism, and calls for the removal of Confederate statues and symbols across the country.
Although Northam signed the executive order, the removal of the statue was delayed by more than a year because lawsuits were filed by residents who opposed the removal of the nation’s largest Confederate statue. Last week, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that the statute could be taken down.
The removal is set to commence on Wednesday at 8 a.m. when crews will remove the plaques from the 40-foot pedestal and lift the 12-ton, 21-foot statue of Lee on a horse from the pedestal, USA Today reports. The monument will be held in a state-run storage facility and Northam’s administration said it would seek public input on the statue’s future.
In Virginia, more than a dozen other Confederate memorials were removed after the General Assembly passed a law allowing localities to decide how to deal with Confederate monuments on public property.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney acknowledged the significance of the moment and hopes that the removal of that statue will usher in a new era of inclusion in the city and the state.
“We are taking an important step this week to embrace the righteous cause and put the ‘Lost Cause’ behind us,” Stoney said in a statement. “Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy. We are a diverse, open, and welcoming city, and our symbols need to reflect this reality.”