Virginia will remove the pedestal that previously held a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue in Richmond, Governor Ralph Northam announced Sunday.
The announcement arrives nearly one month before Governor Northam will be replaced by the Republican Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin. The Washington Post reported in September that a spokesperson for Youngkin said the Gov-elect agreed with the decision to remove the monument, but believed it belonged in a museum or on a battlefield, as an opportunity to teach about history.
“It was important to us that we do it now and before we leave office,” Alena Yarmosky, Northam’s spokeswoman, told the Associated Press. In addition to taking down the remnants of the Confederate monument, Northam plans to transfer the land, where the statue previously stood, to the City of Richmond.
“This land is in the middle of Richmond, and Richmonders will determine the future of this space,” Northam said in a news release. “The Commonwealth will remove the pedestal and we anticipate a safe removal and a successful conclusion to this project.”
The bronze 12-ton statue of Gen. Lee was removed on Sept. 8 in front of a cheering crowd. Northam hoped to appease protestors by removing the statue in June 2020, however several lawsuits pushed back the date.
The Lee statue was one of five massive Confederate monuments that were also removed in Richmond after George Floyd’s killing sparked protests nationwide. The other four statues belonged to Richmond, however the statue of Lee was property of the state.
“It is time to display history as history, and use the public memorials to honor the full and inclusive truth of who we are today and in the future,” Gov. Northam said at the time.
According to AP, preliminary work to remove the 40-foot-tall pedestal, which is covered in graffiti, is expected to begin Monday (Dec. 6). The news release, issued by Northam’s administration, states the removal will be “substantially complete” by Dec. 31.