Crews are set to remove one of the country’s largest remaining monuments to the Confederacy, a towering statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, reports the Associated Press.
The 21-foot-tall (6.4-meter) bronze likeness of Lee on a horse will be hoisted off its 40-foot (12- meter) pedestal Wednesday, 131 years after it was erected in the former capital of the Confederacy as a tribute to the Civil War leader.
Many consider the statue’s place of honor on Monument Avenue to be an offensive glorification of the South’s slave-holding past. Others argued that taking it down would amount to erasing history. Public officials resisted calls to remove it until the death of George Floyd under a police officer’s knee.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans for its removal in June 2020, 10 days after Floyd’s death in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racism. The plans then stalled until the Supreme Court of Virginia last week ruled against two lawsuits opposing its removal, clearing the way for Wednesday’s event.
“This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a commonwealth,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release announcing final plans for the removal.
The work is slated to begin early Wednesday. A large crane will be used to hoist the 12-ton (11 metric-ton) statue off its pedestal. The sculpture is expected to be cut into two pieces for transport, although the final plan is subject to change, said Dena Potter, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of General Services.