Robert E. Lee statue, eight Confederate busts removed from Virginia Capitol
Written by kslmadmin on July 24, 2020
A life-size statue of General Robert E. Lee along with the busts of eight of his Confederate colleagues were removed from Virginia’s Capitol late Thursday and early Friday.
State House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn ordered the removal from the Capitol’s Old House Chamber, a room where rebel lawmakers often met but which in later years mainly served as a museum to visitors.
“Virginia has a story to tell that extends far beyond glorifying the Confederacy and its participants,” the Democratic lawmaker from Fairfax wrote in a statement. “Now is the time to provide context to our Capitol to truly tell the commonwealth’s whole history.”
Richmond became the capital of the Confederacy in 1861.
In addition to Lee, the statues taken down are of Joseph E. Johnston, Fitzhugh Lee, Alexander H. Stephens, Thomas Bocock, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, James E.B. “Jeb” Stuart, Jefferson F. Davis and Matthew F. Maury. They will all be taken to an undisclosed storage location.
Filler-Corn said her role as speaker gives her the power over furnishings and decorations in the House-controlled parts of the Capitol.
She also announced the formation of an advisory group to propose new types of memorials for the iconic Thomas Jefferson-designed Capitol. The group will be made up of bipartisan House lawmakers, historians and community leaders from across the state.
Virginia, like so many other states across the country, is dealing with a racial reckoning and has had to decide whether to stick with controversial symbols from the past or embrace change.
Gov. Ralph Northam is locked in a court battle with the descendants of signatories to an 1890 deed over the removal of an enormous statue of Lee from Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
On Thursday, a judge heard arguments in the case but said he would not immediately issue a ruling over the state’s plan to remove the statue.
Attorney General Mark Herring’s office asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit and dissolve an existing injunction barring the removal of the statue.
The lawsuit was filed by William C. Gregory, a descendant of signatories of the deed that transferred the statue, pedestal and ground they sit on to the state. In his lawsuit, he argues that the state agreed to “faithfully guard” and “affectionately protect” them.
Earlier this month, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the immediate removal of multiple Confederate monuments throughout the city.
After the Stonewall Jackson statue, which was erected on Oct. 11, 1919, was removed from its pedestal on city property, Northam tweeted: “A monumental day in Richmond that begins the important process of removing these painful symbols of our past. Thank you, next.”
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