State Watch

Virginia governor to announce removal of Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Richmond’s Monument Avenue.

The statue, one of several that gives the street its name, will be removed from its pedestal and placed in storage during a comment period to determine a new location.

The protests that have swept the U.S. over the death of George Floyd have included the defacement of multiple Confederate monuments, as well as others associated with institutionalized racism, such as Philadelphia’s statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo (D), a vocal opponent of desegregation who ran for re-election under the slogan “Vote White.”

The Lee statue, one of five Confederate monuments on the street, has been the target of vandalism during the protests.

On Monday, police near the statue fired tear gas to disperse protesters about 20 minutes before a curfew. The police department insisted they fired the gas to prevent officers from being “cut off” by violent demonstrators, but protesters on the scene denied the targets had been violent and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) later apologized for the incident.

Stoney, meanwhile, announced Wednesday that he and Councilman Mike Jones will introduce a measure July 1 to remove all the street’s Confederate monuments, which include Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. A commission had previously recommended the removal of only Davis’s statue.

“I appreciate the recommendations of the Monument Avenue Commission — those were the appropriate recommendations at the time,” Stoney said in a statement, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. “But times have changed, and removing these statues will allow the healing process to begin for so many Black Richmonders and Virginians.”

The Hill has reached out to Northam’s office for comment.

State Watch