Crowds have cheered as workers removed a Confederate statue from outside a Virginia courthouse 111 years after it was first erected.
The monument – which depicts an unnamed Confederate soldier and is titled ‘At Ready’- was taken down from its foundations out front of the Albemarle County courthouse in Charlottesville on Saturday morning.
It was a momentous occasion for residents still reeling from the violent Unite The Right rally that took place in the city back in August 2017. The two-day demonstration, which featured Neo-Nazis brandishing tiki torches, ended in the death of a 32-year-old counter-protester.
‘This is a magnificent moment,’ local man Don Gathers, 61, told The Washington Post as he watched the statue come down.
‘Much of the racial tension, strife and protest we’re seeing across the country emanates from right here in Charlottesville. But now we’re moving the needle in a positive way.’
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Crowds cheered as workers removed a Confederate statue from outside the Albemarle Courthouse in Charlottesville on Saturday
The statue of the unnamed soldier, which is titled ‘At Ready’, was erected back in 1909
City officials urged residents to stay home and watch a livestream of the removal on Facebook, but dozens still turned out to watch the statue be taken down
A local activist is seen speaking ahead of the statue’s removal on Saturday morning
The Albemarle County board of supervisors voted to remove the monument last month. They subsequently agreed to spend $60,000 of taxypayer money on a local forklift crew to pull down the imposing monument.
An additional $3,600 of taxpayer money was also used to cover the cost of flatbed trucks, which will take the monument to its new home at the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.
The foundation preserves Civil War items and monuments for historical and educational purposes.
City officials live streamed the removal process on the County of Albemarle Facebook page in the hopes of keeping people away from the area amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Albemarle County board of supervisors voted to remove the monument last month. They subsequently agreed to splash $60,000 on a local forklift crew to pull down the imposing monument
The statue will be taken the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation to be preserved as a historical item
Not everyone was happy about the removal. Some on Facebook claimed it was endemic of a ‘cancel culture’ that will result in less freedom for all people
The statue taken was located just a block away from of a monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which still stands
However, that didn’t stop the small crowd of supporters from coming to the courthouse to celebrate.
Not everyone was happy about the removal, though, with some saying it was endemic of a ‘cancel culture’ that will result in less freedom for all people.
‘Oh look let’s put away all the monuments and hide the past, now we won’t ever have to remember it. Insanity…’ one Facebook user complained.
The statue taken was located just a block away from a controversial monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Proposals to remove that public display spurred the 2017 Unite The Right Rally.
Back in July 2017, members of the Klu Klux Klan turned out in Charlottesville to stage a protest against the removal of the Lee monument.
The following month, the Unite The Right rally was held.
The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville (pictured)
Back in July 2017, members of the Klu Klux Klan turned out in Charlottesville to stage a protest against the removal of the Lee monument (pictured)
Protesters and counter-protesters clashed at the Violent Unite The Rally in Charlottesville back in August 2017
Last year, a circuit court judge declared that statue cannot be removed without permission from the state because it meets classification as a ‘memorial for war veterans’. A such, the judge ruled, it is protected by Virginia law.
The Code of Virigina declares that it is ‘unlawful for the local authorities to disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials’.
Since then, the monument has been damaged with a chisel and has been spray painted with the words ‘Impeach Trump’.
According to The Washington Post, armed right-wingers have from ‘militia groups’ have started their own patrols to protect the monument as a legal battle continues.
Meanwhile, other Confederate statues have also been torn down in recent months amid a national reckoning on race sparked by the death of unarmed black man George Floyd of Memorial Day.
Another statue of Robert E. Lee, which still stands in Richmond, Virginia, was plastered with graffiti amid Black Lives Matter protests.
A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia was plastered with graffiti following Black Lives Matter marches in June