A towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that is one of America’s largest monuments to the Confederacy was hoisted off its pedestal and removed Wednesday to cheers in Richmond, Virginia — where it has stood for over a century.
The 21-foot statue was removed with the help of a crane and a team of construction workers who had strapped a bright orange harness around the body of Lee and his horse.
Hundreds of people gathered nearby — including Black Lives Matter supporters — erupted into cheers as the statue was lifted off its pedestal.
Workers immediately started cutting the statue into pieces by taking a power saw to the general’s waist.
The statue was then taken off to an undisclosed location until officials can make a final decision on its fate.
The bronze statue has been in the middle of a traffic circle on Richmond’s Monument Avenue for 130 years.
Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam first announced plans to remove the statue in June last year after George Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality.
Residents opposed to the move filed two lawsuits and managed to stall the process, but a Supreme Court of Virginia ruling last week cleared the way for the statue to be taken down.
Northam livestreamed the removal of the statue on Twitter.
“Any remnant like this that glorifies the Lost Cause of the Civil War, it needs to come down,” Northam said, adding the statue represents “more than 400 years of history that we should not be proud of.”
Police closed off streets in the vicinity ahead of the statue’s removal and set up crowd-control barriers around viewing areas.
It comes after statues of Lee and Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson were removed from Charlottesville, Virginia, in July.
The toppling of those statues came four years after the Confederate shrines sparked the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
With Post wires