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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam To Order The Removal Of Statue Of Confederate General Robert E. Lee

by : Lucy Connolly on : 04 Jun 2020 15:10
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam To Order The Removal Of Statue Of Confederate General Robert E. LeeVirginia Governor Ralph Northam To Order The Removal Of Statue Of Confederate General Robert E. LeePA Images

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is expected to announce the removal of a statue honouring Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

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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.

Robert E. Lee MonumentRobert E. Lee MonumentPA Images

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.

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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.’

He continued:

Times have changed, and removing these statues will allow the healing process to begin for so many Black Richmonders and Virginians.

America Protests VirginiaAmerica Protests VirginiaPA Images

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’.

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Robert e. lee statue virginia 1Robert e. lee statue virginia 1PA Images

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.

So far, Derek Chauvin – the white officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck – has been charged with second degree murder, while the other three involved are being charged with aiding and abetting murder.

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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If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.

Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: News, America, Confederacy, Confederates, Protests, Racism, Ralph Northam, Robert E. Lee, slavery, UA, Virginia

Credits

CNN and 3 others
  1. CNN

    Virginia governor to announce removal of Robert E. Lee statue from Richmond as city reckons with Confederate monuments

  2. Richmond Virginia Announcements

    Mayor Stoney marches with Richmond, commits to reform measures

  3. Richmond Police/Twitter

    @RichmondPolice

  4. Virginia Legislative Black Caucus

    VLBC STATEMENT ON THE REMOVAL OF THE ROBERT E. LEE STATUE