Virginia governor announce the removal of Robert E. Lee statue

The governor will direct the statue to be moved off its massive pedestal and put into storage.

The move comes amid turmoil across the nation and around the world over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving.

Floyd’s death has sparked outrage over issues of racism and police brutality and prompted a new wave of Confederate memorial removals in which even some of their longtime defenders have decided to remove them.

The Lee statue is one of five Confederate monuments along Monument Avenue in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy. It has been the target of vandalism during protests in recent days over Floyd’s death. The base was covered this week with graffiti, including messages that say “end police brutality” and “stop white supremacy.”

The Lee monument was erected in 1890, decades after the end of the Civil War.

Also on Wednesday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced plans to remove the other Confederate monuments along Monument Avenue, which include statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart. Those statues sit on city land, unlike the Lee statue, which is on state property.

Stoney said he would introduce an ordinance July 1 to have the statues removed. That’s when a new law goes into effect, which was signed earlier this year by Northam, that undoes an existing state law protecting Confederate monuments and instead lets local governments decide their fate.

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