Governor Northam announces removal of Lee statue
An announcement to remove the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Richmond’s prominent Monument Avenue was met with applause Thursday morning.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was joined by numerous other state and city officials to announce the plan to remove the statue “as soon as possible.” That could happen in a matter of weeks.
“It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now,” Governor Northam said. “So, we’re taking it down.”
to read the governor's remarks as prepared for delivery.
Northam says he’s directing the Department of General Services to put it into storage until he works with the community to determine its future.
The Department of General Services said, “DGS is taking steps to carry out this order as soon as possible. The size, scale and location of the monument will require careful planning, which is currently underway, to ensure it is completed safely and effectively.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney started the press conference by saying it’s time to heal.
“It’s time to put an end to the lost cause; Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy,” said Mayor Levar Stoney.
Governor Northam then took the podium talking about the history of the statue in this city. He read a quote from Robert E Lee that said: “I think it is wiser not to keep open the source of war but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife.”
Reverend Robert Wright Lee, a fourth-generation descendant of the Confederate general was also at the announcement. He had previously released a statement in support of the monument’s removal.
“We have created an idol of white supremacy," he said at the briefing. "The idols must be torn down.”
The historic decision to remove the statue 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.
This also follows Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announcing that he would introduce an ordinance to remove the Confederate monuments on city land along Monument Avenue.
It’s been a back and forth debate for years. The city owns all of the Confederate monuments in Richmond except for the Lee monument, which the state owns. Now there are renewed efforts to get rid of them all.
Huge crowds gathered around the Lee monument Wednesday, with many of the protesters find a striking connection to Confederate statues adorning Monument Avenue.
"I say burn it down. Tear it down,” Austin Carroll said.
"Absolutely,” Xra Bennett said. Bennett and Raul Santos came out to the monument on the same day they graduated from high school, completing one milestone, hoping to see another. “Slavery is over. It’s over. It’s done. It’s time for a change,” they said.
"On the death of Heather Heyer, I submitted a request to take down the monuments but my colleagues on city council chose not to advance the papers,” Mike Jones said as a crowd erupted in anger.
Jones says he plans to propose yet another ordinance to get rid of all confederate monuments in Richmond. Stoney stood by his side in agreement.
"I got a 19-year-old son that I’m worried about. These racist monuments…they’ve got to come down,” Jones said.
US Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said, "It’s time. These statues are not just reminders of a painful past, but symbols of a painful present and even harbingers of a difficult future. The Governor’s action answers a question: Why glorify those who fought to keep people in bondage because of the color of their skin?"
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus also released the following statement in part:
Not everyone thinks all of this is a good idea. Speaking on behalf of the Virginia Flaggers, Grayson Jennings issued the following statement:
The Mayor of Crewe, Greg Eanes, also sent a letter to Northam and Stoney asking that the monuments be moved to his town to help increase Civil War tourism and revenue, which he says his town depends on.
to watch the briefing from the governor's
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