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Final Confederate Statue Removed from Monument Avenue

Statue of man missing torso
After being pulled down from its pedestal, the statue of Robert E. Lee was cut in half at its waist. (Photo: Julia Rendleman)

Whittney Evans and Patrick Larsen reported this story.

Today, hundreds of people cheered as crews removed the last Confederate statue on Richmond’s Monument Avenue from its pedestal.

Removal began at 8 a.m. and finished within the hour. After, the monument was split into two parts and transferred to a secure storage location.

University of Richmond students attended with their professor, Thad Williamson, a former city council candidate and mayoral adviser.

One of those students, Christian Herald, questioned the celebratory atmosphere. Ending racism “starts and ends with policies,” she said. “There’s no point in taking down the statue of a racist when you don’t have antiracist policies to back that up. There’s no point in honoring Black and brown Richmonders when you’ve destroyed Black and brown communities in order to build these spaces.”

Her view was shared by Alexcia Cleveland, a public historian who protested against racial injustice and the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last summer. She  called the removal “bittersweet.”

“It’s really exciting to see that come down,” Cleveland said. “But I do also have mixed feelings because it is kind of overshadowing, once again, the more material issues that really affect people’s lives like police brutality.”

Marland Buckner lives steps away from the monument. He said symbols are important in public life and celebrated the statue’s removal.

“There’s a reason that monument went up,” Buckner said. “And there’s a reason that monument went down. And what we’ve got to do is understand the relationship between these symbolic gestures and the hard work of unwinding the chaos and the brutality that those symbols helped create.”


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