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A.P. Hill statue — Richmond's last city-owned Confederate monument — comes down

The AP Hill statute is placed on a flat-bed truck after being removed from its pedestal.
The statue of A.P Hill — which depicts him with a sword and hat in hand — is placed on a truck after being removed from its pedestal on Monday. (Photo: Scott Elmquist/VPM News)

“21! 22! 23! 24!” Imago Dei Neighborhood School students counted aloud as crews removed Richmond’s last city-owned Confederate monument at the intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road on Monday.

“How long do you think it’ll take?” asked Alana Smith, the school’s admissions director and community liaison. Another administrator was unsure if the counting was to occupy students’ time in the cold weather — or if it was related to how long the statue would take to come down.

“This was a beautiful opportunity to say, ‘Hey, something amazing is happening, let’s talk about it,’” said Smith. “Some of them are asking, ‘Now that the statue’s come down, what can we put [there] instead?’”

The smell of hot metal was in the air as a crane lifted the statue onto a flatbed truck. It took less than an hour for crews to remove the A.P. Hill monument from its pedestal. It was the last city-owned monument to the Confederacy still standing in Richmond.

Work is continuing to remove the pedestal, which might contain Hill’s remains.

Because of that, the city needed a court order to disinter them. Then, indirect descendants sued. They didn’t want the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia to be given the monument that sat atop Hill’s remains. The museum has all other monuments previously owned by the city.

John Hill, one of the descendants who was involved in the litigation, was present at the removal on Monday. He said he was against the removal of any of the city’s Confederate monuments.

“It’s his headstone,” said Hill, who drove eight hours from his home in Ohio to attend the removal. “I feel anybody else’s headstone with their family name on it, you don’t wanna see that come down.

Hill said they were still fighting the removal, although on Dec. 8, a judge denied Hill and others’ requests to further delay the removal.

If Hill’s remains are recovered, according to the city’s plan outlined in court documents, they will be moved to Fairview Cemetery in his native Culpeper County.

Virginia had more Confederate monuments than any other state, and Richmond began taking city-owned monuments down in July 2020. A Richmond Circuit Court judge cleared the way in October for the statue's removal.

What's next? Removal of A.P. Hill statue points to new era in Richmond history

Jahd Khalil covers Virginia state politics for VPM News.