Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced plans on Thursday for the removal of the iconic statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Richmond’s prominent Monument Avenue, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
The Democratic governor will direct the statue to be moved off its massive pedestal and put into storage while his administration seeks input on a new location, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak before the governor’s announcement.
Several black lawmakers and activists applauded this move.
“That is a symbol for so many people, black and otherwise, of a time gone by of hate and oppression and being made to feel less than,” said Del. Jay Jones, a black lawmaker from Norfolk. He said he was “overcome” by emotion when he learned the statue was to come down.
The move comes amid turmoil across the nation and around the world over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving.
Floyd’s death sparked outrage over issues of racism and police brutality and prompted a new wave of Confederate memorial removals in which even some of their longtime defenders have decided to remove them.
The Lee statue is one of five Confederate monuments along Monument Avenue, a prestigious residential street and National Historic Landmark district in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy. It has been the target of graffiti during protests in recent days over Floyd’s death, including messages that say “end police brutality” and “stop white supremacy.” sources from Washington Times.