RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Work crews have taken down the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors statue, the sixth Confederate monument to be removed in Richmond amid national protests against police brutality and symbols many see as racist icons.
Crews arrived at about 7 a.m Wednesday in the city’s Libby Hill neighborhood to take down the monument, which towers 100 feet (30.5 meters) high and was installed in 1894. It depicts a Confederate soldier standing atop a pillar. The phrases “BLM” and “TAKE IT DOWN” were recently painted on the pavement that surrounds it, NBC 12 reported.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, citing his emergency powers on July 1, ordered the removal of all city-owned Confederate statues. A statue of Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was taken down by crews on Tuesday and four other monuments were removed last week.
Richmond’s largest statue left standing is on state land — the massive monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Its removal, under the orders of Gov. Ralph Northam, has been blocked at least temporarily by a court injunction.
These Confederate statues were erected decades after the Civil War, during an era when Southern states were crushing attempts to achieve equality for Black people, and the “Lost Cause” movement was promoting the inaccurate idea that the South’s rebellion was a fight solely for states rights and not slavery. In Richmond, the first major monument — the Lee statue — was erected in 1890.
After years of little change, a growing number of these Confederate symbols are being removed, prompted by nationwide protests against police brutality and racism that appear to have inspired a profound shift in American thinking.
State and local governments have take down monuments in response to impassioned demonstrators. And in a few cases, protesters have toppled the figures themselves.
Other statues that have been recently removed in Richmond, the onetime capital of the Confederacy, honor Gen. Stonewall Jackson and naval officer Matthew Fontaine Maury.