Statue of Confederate general shot down nearly four years after a deadly demonstration of white supremacists in the city.
A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was shot down in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, nearly four years after the white supremacist protests on plans to remove her led to clashes in which a woman was killed.
Shortly after the removal of the Lee statue, a statue of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was also removed from its base in another city park. Spectators who had gathered hours earlier were animated as the statues were loaded onto trucks and hauled away.
Dozens of spectators lined up at the blocks surrounding the park, and a cheer was raised when the statue of Lee was lifted from the pedestal. There was a visible police presence, with roads blocked to traffic by fencing vehicles and heavy trucks.
Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker made a speech in front of reporters and observers as the crane approached the monument.
“Removing this statue is a small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America face the sin of being willing to destroy black people for economic gain,” Walker said.
Statues in honor of the leaders of the pro-slavery Confederate side in the American Civil War have become a focus of protests against racism in recent years.
The planned removal of Lee’s statue in the university town in 2017 sparked a demonstration by white supremacists that went dead when a self-described neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd and killed a counter-witness, Heather Heyer, 32. .
Weeks later Charlottesville City Council unanimously ordered the removal of the Jackson statue.
Citizens including the Virginia Division of the Children of Confederate Veterans have been sued in Charlottesville for removal plans. In April, Virginia’s highest court ruled that the city could remove the two Confederate statues, overturning a decision by the state Circuit Court that had upheld the city’s lawsuit.
Charlottesville will keep the statues in stock until it makes a final decision on what to do with them, officials said in a statement Friday.
Kristin Szakos, a former Charlottesville city council member who witnessed the removal of the statues, said that “people in this community have been trying to bring down these statues for a hundred years.”
He added: “I think we’re finally ready to be a community that doesn’t telegraph through our public art that we’re good enough with white supremacy.”