Richmond, VA — A crowd cheered early Wednesday as a towering statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee was taken down in Virginia.
The bronze, 21-foot sculpture depicting the general atop a horse was removed from its pedestal in Richmond by a crew that used a crane to guide the structure to the ground, a video shared by Gov. Ralph Northam’s office shows.
Spectators chanted “hey, hey hey, goodbye” as the statue was lowered, making it the latest Confederate monument to be taken down in the United States recently.
Northam was in attendance Wednesday, as was Attorney General Mark Herring, according to local news station WRIC.
“With the removal of this grandiose monument to a past that no longer represents who we are as a Commonwealth, we can turn the page to a new chapter,” Herring said Wednesday.
The removal of the statue was approved last week by Virginia’s supreme court after Northam had expressed plans to take it down last year.
“Virginia’s largest monument to the Confederate insurrection will come down this week,” Northam said. “This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a commonwealth.”
Protests swept the U.S. and beyond last year following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, while in police custody in Minneapolis.
The Lee statue in Richmond was frequently defaced, with graffiti visible on the pedestal when the structure was removed Wednesday.
Officials intend to take apart the statue so it can be transported, according to WRIC, though plans for the 40-foot pedestal have not been publicly announced.
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