Confederate Memorials Quietly Removed from Virginia Capitol OvernightBreaking News
tags: memorials, Confederacy, Virginia, monuments, public history
Workers wielding power tools and huge rolls of bubble wrap carted a life-size statue of Robert E. Lee and busts of seven of his Confederate colleagues out of the Virginia Capitol late Thursday night and early Friday morning.
House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) ordered them removed from the historic Capitol’s Old House Chamber, the room where rebel lawmakers met when Richmond served as the capital of the Confederacy.
“Virginia has a story to tell that extends far beyond glorifying the Confederacy and its participants,” Filler-Corn said in an emailed statement, condemning the Confederate ideology as based on maintaining slavery. “Now is the time to provide context to our Capitol to truly tell the Commonwealth’s whole history.”
She announced the formation of an advisory group to propose new types of memorials for the Thomas Jefferson-designed Capitol building.
The removals, under darkness and in secrecy, eliminated symbols that had largely escaped the recent public outcry over monuments to racial repression. Richmond’s Capitol Square has been tightly guarded over the past month and a half as protesters have gathered in the streets, night after night, spray-painting statues around the city and toppling some with ropes.
With the state locked in a court battle over Gov. Ralph Northam’s plans to take down a grand statue of Lee on the city’s Monument Avenue, Filler-Corn took a page from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s playbook and simply acted without announcing it first. Stoney has removed more than a dozen Confederate memorials around the city, though a court injunction has prevented him from getting rid of one remaining statue, of Gen. A.P. Hill.
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