The controversial statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va. which has been making headlines since the George Floyd protests last summer, finally came down off its pedestal Wednesday morning.
According to the Associated Press, the crowd that gathered to watch the removal in the capital was cheering so loud that you couldn’t hear the crying racists that undoubtedly came to grieve.
If you remember, The Root has been covering the uphill battle to remove the looming statue. Gov. Ralph Northam had announced plans for its removal last year but was stopped by a series of lawsuits and appeals. After months of fighting, the Virginia Supreme Court finally granted Northam permission to remove the statue last week.
Here’s what happened this morning, according to AP:
Some chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” and sang, “Hey hey hey, goodbye.” One man with a Black Lives Matter flag was escorted out by police after running into the fenced-off work area. No arrests were reported, and there was no sign of a counter protest.
Workers used a power saw to cut the statue in two along the general’s waist, so that it can be hauled under highway overpasses to an undisclosed state-owned facility until a decision is made about its final disposition.
The job was overseen by Team Henry Enterprises, led by Devon Henry, a Black executive who faced death threats after his company’s role in removing Richmond’s other Confederate statuary was made public last year. He said the Lee statue posed their most complex challenge.
The statue honoring the Confederate general has been looking over the capital city of Richmond from its spot on Monument Avenue for over a century, CNN reports. And it came down to Black Lives Matter chants. We love to see it.
The monument was among four other Confederate statues that were removed by the city last summer, AP reports. The only statue left on the street is that of Black tennis hero and Richmond native Arthur Ashe, erected in 1996.
The only piece left is the time capsule, which sat under the statue.
A time capsule at the monument is also set to be replaced with a new capsule made by Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale that will include 39 artifacts. A photo taken of a Black ballerina at the monument last summer, a Covid-19 vaccination card and Kente cloth are some of the items to be included.
“The past 18 months have seen historic change, from the pandemic to protests for racial justice that led to the removal of these monuments to a lost cause,” Northam said in a statement Tuesday, CNN notes. “It is fitting that we replace the old time capsule with a new one that tells that story.”