RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia governor’s office announced Sunday it would remove the pedestal of the former Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond and cede the state-owned property on which it stood to the city.
Governor Ralph Northam announced Monday that the removal of the pedestal would begin. Ralph Northam’s office said. It will all be done by the December end.
“This land is in the middle of Richmond, and Richmonders will determine the future of this space,” Northam, who leaves office next month, said in a statement released by his office. “The Commonwealth will remove the pedestal and we anticipate a safe removal and a successful conclusion to this project.”
This statue had been on Monument Avenue for over 130 years. The Virginia Supreme Court decided earlier this year that the state which owned the property was not bound to a century-old land agreement between Henrico County citizens, who paid for it, and the commonwealth.
In 2002, legislation was passed by the General Assembly allowing the removal Confederate monuments from public properties.
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The Lee statue, once considered the “crown jewel” of all the Confederate memorials that dotted Monument Avenue for years, was the only one on Virginia-owned property. After the law was passed, the remaining statues belonged to the city of Richmond. They were quickly removed.
The statue, in a traffic circle at the intersection of Monument and Allen avenues, was sort of a “ground zero” for protests last year in Richmond following the deaths of several Black citizens at the hands of police officers in Minnesota and Kentucky.
After the pedestal has been taken down, Richmond will receive the land. The land will be transferred to Richmond once the pedestal is down. The exact future of the traffic circle post-removal has not yet been determined. Plans called for both the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) to agree on a project.
The announcement from the governor’s office said the state will “safely disassemble and store the pedestal until next steps have been determined.” The statue that was on the pedestal also was disassembled and placed into storage.
A time capsule was reportedly placed inside the pedestal in 1887, but so far, crews have not been able to locate it.If locatedThe state will keep it with the pedestal.