Gov. Ralph Northam announced Sunday that the pedestal on which the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee stood for 131 years in Richmond, Virginia is scheduled to be removed.
Northam said in a press release that the land that housed both the statue and the pedestal will be returned to the city.
“This land is in the middle of Richmond, and Richmonders will determine the future of this space,” Northam said. “The Commonwealth will remove the pedestal and we anticipate a safe removal and a successful conclusion to this project.”
The pedestal has been repeatedly defaced with profane, anti-police graffiti.
The Lee statue was the last remaining Confederate figure to remain on the city’s historic Monument Avenue, after having become the subject of profound controversy following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
Shortly after Floyd’s death while in police custody, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the removal of the memorials of Confederate Gens. Jeb Stuart and Stonewall Jackson, as well Confederate Naval commander Matthew Fontaine Murray. Protesters previously overturned a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Court litigation delayed the removal of the Lee statue because it was on state-owned land. The Virginia Supreme Court ultimately ruled in a 7-0 decision that the statue should be taken down and sawed into two pieces and put into storage.
“The commonwealth of Virginia will remove the largest Confederate statue remaining in the United States – the statue of Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond – on Wednesday, September 8, following authorization by all three branches of state government, including a unanimous decision last week by the Supreme Court of Virginia,” the state announced in a press release at the time.
Former President Donald Trump issued a statement against the statue’s removal at the time, saying, “Our culture is being destroyed and our history and heritage, both good and bad, are being extinguished by the Radical Left, and we can’t let that happen!”
Northam faced a racially charged controversy himself in 2019, regarding a yearbook photo from his college days.