Tulsa World

Confederat­e statue comes down

Hundreds of onlookers cheer as bronze figure is dismantled

- ASSOCIATED PRESS, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH

A statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that towered over Richmond for generation­s was taken down, cut into pieces and hauled away Wednesday as the former capital of the Confederac­y erased the last of the Civil War figures that once defined its most prominent thoroughfa­re.

Amanda Lynch’s eyes welled with tears as a crane heaved the 12-ton tribute to Lee from the 40-foot pedestal where it’s stood for more than a century. Hundreds of onlookers erupted in cheers and song as the 21-foot-tall bronze figure was lifted off the pedestal and lowered to the ground.

The removal marked a major victory for civil rights activists, whose previous calls to dismantle the statues had been steadfastl­y rebuked by city and state officials alike.

“It almost felt like a pressure valve being released,” Lynch said of seeing the statue come down. “I really wish my grandparen­ts were here to see that all the things they prayed for are coming to fruition.”

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the statue’s removal last summer amid the nationwide protest movement that erupted after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapoli­s. But litigation tied up his plans until the state Supreme Court cleared the way last week.

Dedicated 131 years ago, the statue of Lee was the largest standing Confederat­e monument in the country before it was removed Wednesday, according to state officials.

For those who had been advocating for its removal, the shrine was a symbol of white supremacy, racial segregatio­n and disenfranc­hisement. It was erected as the centerpiec­e of a neighborho­od built exclusivel­y for white residents.

Northam, who watched the work, called it “hopefully a new day, a new era in Virginia.”

“Any remnant like this that glorifies the lost cause of the Civil War, it needs to come down,” he said.

Once the statue was on the ground, the crew used a power saw to cut it in two along the general’s waist, so that it could be hauled under highway overpasses to an undisclose­d state-owned facility until a decision is made about its future.

Brenda Riddick knew its legacy well. She peered at the blocked-off section of the median where her then-tiny hands interlocke­d with her grandfathe­r’s in the 1950s — an era when Virginia’s whiteonly stores barred Riddick, who is Black, from entering.

 ?? DANIEL SANGJIB MIN, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH ?? One of the nation’s largest Confederat­e monuments came down Wednesday in Richmond, Va., when workers removed a figure of Gen. Robert E. Lee that had been on display for more than a century.
DANIEL SANGJIB MIN, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH One of the nation’s largest Confederat­e monuments came down Wednesday in Richmond, Va., when workers removed a figure of Gen. Robert E. Lee that had been on display for more than a century.

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