Who built Robert E Lee's statue? Slave owner monument removed to start the 'healing'
The 12-ton bronze statue of Confederate Army General Robert E Lee was finally removed from its pedestal in Richmond, Virginia. Dubbed America's largest Confederate statue, its removal sanctioned by governor Ralph Northam was met with eruptive chants of 'black lives matter' and a giant crowd singing 'Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye' as officials took it down on September 8, at around 8 am EST.
The 21-feet statue was erected in 1890 in honor of Lee, a prominent slave owner, and Confederate Army general who ultimately became a pioneering icon for the alt-right. The statue will now be sent to the Goochland Women's Correctional Center in Virginia where it will stay until officials decide what to do with it. The statue is also the latest one to have been toppled after pressure from the BLM movement, even though there was severe pushback from White residents who thought it was necessary to preserve the statue in history.
Who built the Robert E Lee statue?
The statue of Lee on horseback had become a central ground of BLM protests last year after Minneapolis man George Floyd was killed by ex-cop Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for over 9 minutes. The statue was reportedly created by internationally renowned French sculptor Marius-Jean-Antonin Mercie and has been dubbed a masterpiece, securing a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, where it has been listed since 2007.
The monument had arrived in the US from France and an estimated 10,000 Virginians helped haul its pieces for over a mile using wagons and ropes to carry it where it stood until its recent takedown. The statue was also the first of five Confederate monuments erected on Richmond´s Monument Avenue, dating back to a time where, even though the Civil War and Reconstruction were over, Jim Crow racial segregation laws were soaring.
What will happen of the statue?
Once removed from the pedestal, the statue was put on the ground with a fence surrounding it to keep out protestors and spectators. The original plan was to remove the statue in two parts, cutting it across the waist but that plan was never followed through. While unclear what becomes of the statue until officials decide how to dispose of it, the Northam administration is said to be seeking public input regarding the statue's future. The 40 feet concrete pedestal on which it stood will be left behind as a re-design of Monument Avenue continues to be in the works.
Northam had taken the call to remove the statue 10 days after the killing of Floyd on May 26, 2020. Plans of removing the statue was stalled for over a year due to two separate lawsuits filed by residents protesting its removal, but the Supreme Court ruled last week for the statue to be taken down. Once removed from its original spot, Northam said in a statement: "This was a long time coming, part of the healing process so Virginia can move forward and be a welcoming state with inclusiveness and diversity." He also claimed that the statue represented "400 years of history that we should not be proud of."