One hundred and fifty-five years ago, the Confederate States of America seceded from the United States in order to fight to keep enslaving Black people, with Richmond serving as its capital. Despite the Confederacy’s defeat, the abolishment of slavery in the U.S. and heavy public backlash, monuments to these leaders have stood in Virginia, some of them over a century.
But that’s about to change. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced on July 1 that 11 Confederate monuments in the city will be removed. Stoney is using emergency powers to bypass the city council vote on the monuments that was set to occur in early August.
“These statues, although symbolic, have cast a shadow on the dreams of our children of color. By removing them, we can begin to heal and focus our attention on our future,” said Stoney during a press conference.
Prior to Stoney’s order, legislation was in place to have the monuments removed. However, anti-racism protests jumpstarted the city’s rush to remove the oppressive symbols, with several of the monuments being tagged and pulled down by demonstrators.
So far, three monuments have been taken down by work crews. While 11 monuments have been scheduled to be removed, city officials report not being able to release a full list due to security issues. Here is a list of some of the monuments that have been set for removal.
Confederate Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill Jr. has a monument in the Hermitage Road Historic District in Richmond. The removal of Hill’s statue is more complicated than the others, because the general’s remains in a sarcophagus underneath the 8-foot tall bronze statue.
There have been several debates on where to put the remains, including Fairview Cemetery in Culpeper, where Hill’s mother, father and siblings are buried.
Work crews removed the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors in Libby Hill on July 8, making it the sixth monument to be removed by the city. The process took about 3 hours to remove the statue off its 73-foot pedestal.
According to reports from NBC 12, the Fitzhugh Lee Monument located in Monroe Park is also included in the Mayor’s order of removal. Fitzhugh Lee was a Confederate military leader who led a cavalry at the Battle of Gettysburg.
On July 2, the statue of Navy Officer Matthew Fontaine Maury was removed, making it the second Confederate monument removed in the city. The statue took over an hour to dismantle and lower. Two confederate cannons were also removed shortly afterwards near the Jefferson Davis Monument.
The 22-foot tall statue of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was removed on July 7, making it the third Confederate statue to be removed in Richmond. The statue, originally put up in 1907, took several work crews to remove it. Afterwards, the statue was reportedly laid on its side like the Stonewall Jackson statue.
The Robert E. Lee monument is Richmond’s largest Confederate monument, standing at six-stories tall. While Gov. Ralph Norham has committed to removing the memorial, it has been delayed numerous times due to legal issues in regards to ownership. Due to an agreement that was established upon the statue’s erection, it’s unclear whether or not the state has the authority to remove it.
There is currently an injunction on removing the statue that has been extended indefinitely, though it originally was set to last for just 10 days.
The monument of Stonewall Jackson was the first Confederate monument removed in the state’s capital. On July 1, the bronze memorial was removed from Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Originally erected in 1919, the statue used to stand at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Arthur Ashe Boulevard.