Richmond’s Monument Avenue

Lee statue on Richmond’s Monument Avenue will be removed Wednesday morning

Preparations for the removal of the Lee statue will begin on Tuesday evening.

The Monument Avenue statue of Robert E. Lee, a symbol of Confederate glorification that became the epicenter of calls for racial justice in Richmond, will be removed from its pedestal Wednesday morning.

The 60-foot-tall bronze statue of the Confederate general atop a horse will be removed in pieces 131 years after it was first erected.

The administration of Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that preparations will begin Tuesday evening, when crews will install protective fencing along Monument Avenue and Allen Street. The statue itself will be removed Wednesday morning. On Thursday, crews will remove the plaques at the base of the statue and replace a time capsule believed to be at the site.

The Lee statue is the last Confederate icon along Richmond’s Monument Avenue to be removed.

In Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, the removals have signaled the rejection of Confederate glorification — a movement that sought to perpetuate discrimination against Black people while denying that a key impetus for the Civil War was the defense of slavery.

“Virginia’s largest monument to the Confederate insurrection will come down this week,” Northam said in a statement Monday. “This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a Commonwealth.”

Northam had called for the removal of the Lee statue in June 2020, but two legal challenges asserting that the state was trying to operate outside its powers had presented a roadblock.

Last week, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled unanimously to dismiss both lawsuits, clearing the way for the Lee statue’s removal.

The granite pedestal on which it sits, which bears paint and graffiti from Richmond’s protests against police brutality and systemic racism, will remain in place for now.

“The statue will be placed in secure storage at a state-owned facility until a decision is made as to its disposition,” the administration said in a news release.
Lee is the only Confederate statue along the city’s Monument Avenue that belongs to the state.

In July 2020, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney led the removal of other Confederate statues on Monument Avenue that were controlled by the city. The city removed statues of Gens. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart as well as naval commander Matthew Fontaine Maury. Protesters pulled down the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis the month before.

“Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy. We are a diverse, open, and welcoming city, and our symbols need to reflect this reality,” Stoney said in a statement Monday.

Logistics

The state is planning to designate a public viewing area for pedestrians at Monument Avenue and Stuart Circle. The area will open at 8 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and access will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The public also can watch the removal through a livestream on the governor’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

RICHMOND POLICE DEPARTMENT

Starting on Tuesday at 6 p.m., the state will close many of the roads surrounding the statue; they’ll remain closed until the removal work is done.

The closures include Monument Avenue between North Meadow and Lombardy streets; North Allen Avenue between Park Avenue and West Broad Street; and West Grace Street between North Meadow and Lombardy streets.

Also, there will be no parking allowed on some roads near the statue during the same period. West Broad Street and Park Avenue will both be closed to parking between North Meadow and Lombardy streets, and there will also be no parking on both North Meadow Street and Lombardy Street between Park Avenue and West Broad Street.

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