Virginia Governor Ralph Northam To Order The Removal Of Statue Of Confederate General Robert E. Lee
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is expected to announce the removal of a statue honouring Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The statue, which has been described as ‘a symbol of racism, oppression, and hate’ by political organisations, currently sits on Richmond’s famous Monument Avenue, which memorialises Confederate veterans of the American Civil War.
It comes as protests across the country and worldwide continue in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, with thousands demanding justice for him while drawing attention to the inequalities faced by the black community every single day.
Governor Northam, a Democrat, plans to make the announcement during a press conference in Richmond later today, June 4, a source in the governor’s office told CNN.
The Richmond city government also announced on Wednesday, June 3, that the city’s mayor and a city council member will introduce an ordinance on July 1 to bring down all of the Confederate monuments on Monument Avenue.
In a press release, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Richmond is ‘no longer the Capital of the Confederacy’, adding: ‘It is filled with diversity and love for all – and we need to demonstrate that.’
Times have changed, and removing these statues will allow the healing process to begin for so many Black Richmonders and Virginians.
Statues celebrating Confederate figures such as Robert E. Lee have long been contested. The Confederacy fought the Civil War mainly to protect a southern society, of which slavery was an integral part, and so the statues are seen as effectively honouring supporters of slavery.
In recent days, as protesters have done everything possible to draw attention to centuries of abuse and unjust treatment of black Americans as a result of institutionalised racism, people have rallied around the monuments and painted messages on them which read: ‘End police brutality’ and ‘Stop white supremacy’.
Just days prior to the announcement, police said protesters in Richmond attempted to pull down the statues on Monument Avenue, leading law enforcement officials to warn them they were placing themselves and others ‘in grave jeopardy’.
In a tweet on their official page on Monday, June 1, the Richmond Police Department urged protesters to ‘stand down’, adding: ‘They are extremely heavy and would crush anyone standing too close. Please be aware of the danger.’
Monument Avenue also includes statues of Confederate leaders J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson and Matthew Fontaine Maury, with activists having campaigned for the removal of Lee’s statue – as well as the others – for some time now.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said in a statement that removing the monument is ‘a step in the right direction in the continued fight to address institutional racism, systemic disparities, and remaining vestiges of Jim Crow in our Commonwealth’.
‘These confederate monuments are a symbol of racism, oppression, and hate,’ the statement continued. ‘The long overdue removal of the Lee statue is an important step towards honestly and clearly addressing our Commonwealth’s and our country’s past.’
Protests continue in every state of the US, with thousands demanding the four officers involved in Floyd’s death be brought to justice.
Rest in peace, George.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
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