A statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee was taken down on Wednesday in Richmond, Virginia, removing the last Confederate statue along the city's Monument Avenue.
Crowds cheered as a crane hoisted the statue off of its pedestal just before 9 a.m. on Wednesday after construction workers fastened the statue with chains. Several people in the crowd were seen carrying Black Lives Matter signs, some singing, "Hey hey hey, goodbye."
“This was a long time coming, part of the healing process so Virginia can move forward and be a welcoming state with inclusiveness and diversity,” Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said when the statue was lowered. Northam said the statue represents “more than 400 years of history that we should not be proud of,” thanking Virginians who supported its removal.
Northam ordered the removal of the statue last summer, but the removal was delayed due to litigation over the matter. A recent pair of rulings from the Virginia Supreme Court cleared a path for its removal.
VIRGINIA SET TO REMOVE ROBERT E LEE STATUE FROM RICHMOND AFTER COURT RULING
BREAKING: Robert E. Lee statue, erected in 1890, removed from its pedestal on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. pic.twitter.com/RGRZQXDA9n— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 8, 2021
The state Supreme Court ruled on Sept. 2 that "restrictive covenants" blocking its removal were no longer valid or enforceable.
"Those restrictive covenants are unenforceable as contrary to public policy and for being unreasonable because their effect is to compel government speech, by forcing the Commonwealth to express, in perpetuity, a message with which it now disagrees," the court wrote.
The site where the statue stood was a prominent beacon for protests last summer following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The pedestal where the statue stood has been colored by graffiti and includes messages demanding an end to inequality, with some denouncing police officers.
Attorney General Mark Herring said the statue's removal marked a "historic day in Virginia," adding, "We can now turn the page to a new chapter in our Commonwealth’s history and continue the process of making Virginia a more open, welcoming, fair, and just place for everyone."
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In July, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, removed statues of Lee and Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson after communities pressed for their removal following the fatal Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, 2017.