Virginia to remove Robert E. Lee pedestal in Richmond, transfer state-owned land to city

Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) announced plans to remove a 131-year old pedestal on which the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee stood, and return the land it stands on to the city.

In September, the statue of Lee, which was in Richmond, was taken down, cut into pieces, and removed from the city. The statue had been there for over a century, as Richmond was the capital of the short-lived Confederacy. Northam previously stated that the pedestal Lee’s statue stood on, which is covered in graffiti, would remain. However, he has gone back on the statement.

Just over a month before Northam leaves office, he has ordered for the 40-foot pedestal to be removed and the ownership of the grassy island in the middle of a traffic circle on which it rests to be returned to the city of Richmond.

“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 project will be complete by the end of the month.

Northam’s spokesperson, Alena Yarmosky, said, “It was important to us that we do it now and before we leave office.” The grassy island was private property up until the 19th century when it was gifted to the commonwealth. Yarmosky said there have been a lot of “headaches” as the land is maintained by the state but is located within a city.

The statue was first displayed in 1890, but since then, there have been many calls and demands for its removal. When removed in September, onlookers cheered. Northam ordered the removal during the summer of 2020 in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Legal issues pushed the removal until this year.




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