Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue to be removed on Wednesday

Richmond's statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee — the largest remaining Confederate statue in the country and a divisive symbol in a city where a number of similar statues have already been removed — will be taken down Wednesday.

"Virginia’s largest monument to the Confederate insurrection will come down this week,” Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said in a statement. “This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a Commonwealth.” 

On Tuesday evening, crews will install protective fencing along Monument and Allen avenues, where the statue is located, to restrict cars and pedestrians, The Washington Post reported. After the statue is removed Wednesday, it will be kept at a state-owned facility. 

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Northam first announced plans to remove the statue in June 2020, after nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd ramped up longstanding pressure to take down the statue.

The removal was delayed for more than a year due to two lawsuits, one filed by a group of Richmond residents and the other filed by a descendant of the family who gave the statue to Virginia.

Both complaints asserted that Northam did not have the authority to remove the statue because Virginia is restricted by language in the statue's 1889 deed. A judge ruled in the state's favor in October, but the statue remained as the plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the state's Supreme Court.

The Virginia Supreme Court earlier this month ruled that the statue could come down. 

“As we continue our work to address systemic racism in our society, bringing this statue down will be an important step in the ongoing process of making Virginia a more open, welcoming, fair, and just place for everyone,” state Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said following the Virginia Supreme Court's ruling.

The public can watch the removal of the statue through a Facebook livestream and on Northam's Twitter handle, @GovernorVA, according to the Post.