Robert E. Lee statue taken down in Virginia

A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was removed from its pedestal in Virginia’s capital city Wednesday morning. The 21-foot-tall statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond was one of the largest remaining Confederate monuments in the U.S. — and has long drawn protests as a symbol of racial injustice.

It took crews roughly an hour to remove the statue from its 40-foot pedestal, according to CBS affiliate WTVR. Large crowds cheered as they watched the statue come down. 

Richmond, Virginia Removes Statue Of Confederate General Robert E. Lee
Crews remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue, September 8, 2021 in Richmond, Virginia.  Steve Helber / Getty Images

In a statement, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam noted that the statue of Lee was the last Confederate statue remaining on Monument Avenue. Officials in Richmond have removed more than a dozen other Confederate statues on city land over the past year.

“The public monuments reflect the story we choose to tell about who we are as a people,” Northam said. “It is time to display history as history, and use the public memorials to honor the full and inclusive truth of who we are today and in the future.”

Northam had announced plans to remove the statue in 2020, shortly after nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice broke out following the murder of George Floyd. Many, including Northam, have described the statue as one that symbolizes the hate that millions were protesting against. 

The statue was erected in 1890, “during a time in which southern states were working to reinforce white supremacist systems and structures,” Northam’s statement says. 

The 13-ton bronze statue will now be put in secure storage at a state facility until officials can find a permanent home for it.