Work crews removed the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from its place on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday, following a year-long court battle.
“Any remnant like this that glorifies the Lost Cause of the Civil War, it needs to come down,” Governor Ralph Northam told reporters at the site shortly before the statue came down. “This is, you know, hopefully a new day, a new era in Virginia. And in this country where, you know, we can welcome people and we can embrace diversity.”
Lawrence West, the founder of Black Lives Matter Richmond, said it was “very satisfying” to see the statue removed in comments to CNN.
“Robert E. Lee standing here on Monument Avenue is very symbolic to the Confederate mindset, you know the levels of oppression that people feel on a regular day-to-day basis,” West told CNN. “With the coming down of the monument it is also a part of coming down with those types of ideals. It brings some closure to the conversation, ‘It’s OK to be racist’.”
Northam ordered the removal of the statue in June 2020 following massive, nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
A descendant of two former owners of the land where the statue stood as well as five resident of Richmond’s Monument Avenue Historic District sued last year to prevent the removal. However, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled against both suits on September 3.