RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Stonewall Jackson statue has been removed from its pedestal on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. The monument to the Civil War general was erected in 1919 and stood in the city for more than 100 years.
Thousands of people gathered today at the intersection of N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard and Monument Avenue to watch the historic event. Crowds at the scene grew throughout the day – cheering and chanting, and using their mobile devices to document this moment in Richmond’s history.
Work crews started the removal process at the statue shortly after 1 p.m. Despite rain and threatening weather, the statue was removed before 5 p.m. It was loaded onto a flatbed truck later in the evening and transported to an “undisclosed location,” according to the member of work crew at the scene.
One protestor carrying a flag placed himself in front of the statue’s pedestal pleading for the statue to remain. He was removed shortly after he arrived by Sherrif’s deputies and was taken away from the area, according to reports from the scene.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (D) said today on Twitter, “I am proud that my hometown is removing these painful symbols. No need to honor those who tried to destroy the USA so they could perpetuate slavery.”
The Republican Party of Virginia said today in a press release that Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney does not have legal authority to remove the Stonewall Jackson statue – renewing their call for Stoney to resign from office and calling today’s action a “stunt” that “fuels the flames of the violent and chaotic protests.”
“Richmond is no longer run by the rule of law – it has devolved into anarchy. The loudest group of protesters or rioters are in control at any given moment. Caving to mob rule tells the mob that their violence and looting is the way to make change and that law and order is irrelevant,” said RPV Chairman Jack Wilson in the release.
Legislation went into effect today, July 1, giving the city the authority to remove statues that it owns and manages. Stoney says that as the Director of Emergency Management, he has the authority to take these actions.
Virginia state senator and 2021 gubernatorial candidate Jennifer McClellan said today on Twitter that many people played a role to get here today, referring to the removal of the monument, but that Virginia state senator Mamie Locke and delegate Delores McQuinn, “carried the legislation to make this happen.”
The legislation allowing localities to “remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover” war memorials on public property passed during this year’s General Assembly session.
Earlier today, a resolution calling for the removal of Richmond’s Confederate statues was introduced to city council during a virtual meeting. Despite Mayor Levar Stoney’s request for a unanimous vote, the council’s agenda did not include the motion to expedite the removal, so there was no vote.
“Madam President, it is time. Time to fully embrace the righteous cause. Time to get rid of racist symbols. Frankly, it’s time to heal,” Stoney said addressing Richmond City Council President Cynthia Newbille.
At 2:15 p.m., Mayor Stoney tweeted a video statement, saying “It’s time for the healing to start. For public safety, for our history, for our future – the monuments to the Lost Cause are coming down.”
The mayor said he wants all the monuments to be taken down immediately and put into storage while the city figures out what to do long term.
“We will replace these monuments with symbols that represent our city,” Mayor Stoney said.
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