Despite more than a year of legal battles, the nation’s biggest Confederate monument — a towering statue of Robert E. Lee, the Southern Civil War commander — will be toppled from its pedestal in downtown Richmond, Va., on Wednesday morning after a year-long court battle.
This monument was the first of six Confederate monuments — emblems of white authority — that were built along the main avenue in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, between 1890 and 1895. On Wednesday, it will be the last of them to be removed, allowing all of the city’s inhabitants to contribute to the telling of its narrative.
Monument Avenue in Richmond, where many other Confederate monuments have already been down, will have protective fence put up on Tuesday as part of an ongoing effort to protect the public. All that’s left is Lee, towering over the centre of a big traffic intersection.
Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee statues were peacefully removed from Charlottesville, Virginia in July from a park where the far right held a rally in August 2017 that descended into deadly violence against counter-protesters as they marched against neo-Nazis and other extremists in the name of freedom.
Earlier this month, the Virginia Supreme Court denied or dissolved injunctive relief sought in two lawsuits challenging the removal of the statue — one filed by a descendant from a relatives who owned land on which the monument stands, the other by several owners and a trustee of property in the area’s historic district — allowing the state to proceed with its plans.
Installation of protective netting on the streets around the monument is expected to begin Tuesday evening, when workers begin removing the monument. At that point, all vehicles and people will be removed from the area completely.
The state will have a public viewing of the statue’s removal starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, according to a press release. Plaques at the foot of the monument will be removed on Thursday by a team of workers. The 40-foot granite pedestal will stay in place for the time being, with its long-term fate still up in the air, according to the state.
This is the sixth and last Confederate monument to be demolished on Monument Avenue in Washington, D.C.