RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia Governor announced Sunday that the administration of his will be removing an immense pedestal. until earlier this year held a statueConfederate General Robert E. Lee at Richmond
This announcement is a complete reversal of September’s decision to remove the statue. However, the Democratic governor announced that the pedestal which stands 40 feet (12 m) tall and was currently covered with graffiti would remain.
The city of Richmond will also be receiving the ownership of the island, which is located in the middle of a busy intersection where the statue used to stand. The move comes about a month before Northam leaves office and Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin, who has expressed less enthusiasm about the statue’s removal, is sworn in.
“It was important to us that we do it now and before we leave office,” said Alena Yarmosky, Northam’s spokeswoman.
Yarmosky stated that Yarmosky asked for the deeding, as the land was handed to the commonwealth in 1921. This was so the parcel could be under city control. Yarmosky said state ownership created problems in maintenance and security.
Preliminary work on the pedestal removal was expected to begin Monday, with the project expected to be “substantially complete” by Dec. 31, according to a news release.
The Lee statue, a one-of-a-kind bronze equestrian piece installed in 1890, was perched in the middle of the traffic circle, part of a collection of other Confederate statuary along Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue. This statue had been criticized for being a symbol of racism and was taken away by the public in September to cheers.
Northam ordered the removal of the sign in summer 2020, amid a nationwide protest that broke out following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a Minneapolis police officer. However litigation tied upHis plans for the year.
“In 2020, we can no longer honor a system that was based on the buying and selling of enslaved people,” he said when announcing his decision to remove the statue.
The day it was hauled away, he said, marked “a new day, a new era in Virginia.”
In September, when The Washington Post pressed a Youngkin campaign spokesman for the then-candidate’s position on the removal, the spokesperson said Youngkin agreed with the decision. Youngkin has said the statue belongs in a museum or on a battlefield, as an opportunity to teach about history, and he has criticized the “graffiti and violence” that went along with many protests over Confederate monuments.
The Lee statue was one of five enormous Confederate tributes along Richmond’s Monument Avenue and the only one that belonged to the state. Four statues that are owned by the city were also removed following Floyd’s killing after they became focal points in protests.
Northam stated in September that the pedestal would be left in place, so it could be reimagined by the community. This initiative is being spearheaded by an arts museum, and is currently at an early stage.
“This land is in the middle of Richmond, and Richmonders will determine the future of this space,” Northam said in a statement Sunday. “The Commonwealth will remove the pedestal and we anticipate a safe removal and a successful conclusion to this project.”
The city said in a statement that it planned to accept the donation “following the proper legal steps.”
“The Mayor appreciates the Governor’s willingness to transfer this land back to city control,” Jim Nolan, a spokesman for Mayor Levar Stoney, said in a statement. “And because the Mayor believes Richmond deserves a clean slate when we take it, he supports the Governor’s decision to remove the pedestal.”
The governor’s administration searched unsuccessfully In September, a time capsule was discovered underneath the pedestal. The state even made a new one. The news release stated that the state would take the time capsule from 1887 into its possession if it is found during disassembly and try to keep its contents.
According to the news release, the pedestal components will be kept until further steps can be determined.
Nolan indicated that Nolan believes that parts or the entire pedestal can be saved in museums and not in the middle a street. Nolan said that the city was preparing to remove the pedestals from the existing statues.
Some graffiti has been placed on the pedestal, including profane language and slamming police officers. The pedestal has received some praise as an example of protest art and many community members advocate for it to remain. After Floyd’s death, the traffic circle became a gathering spot for activists, who informally renamed it in honor of Marcus-David PetersAfter threatening the officer, a young Black male was attacked and threatened by a police officer.