State Watch

Time capsule of current events installed into base of Robert E. Lee statue

Workers with Team Henry Enterprises dismantle the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.
UPI Photo

A time capsule of items from current events was installed Saturday in the massive pedestal that used to hold a statue dedicated to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Crews gathered Saturday at the site in Richmond, Va., where the Lee statue was removed to install the capsule full of mementos marking pivotal current events, a government official confirmed to The Associated Press. The time capsule was installed within in the pedestal that once served as the base for the Confederate statue. 

The capsule includes items related to the coronavirus pandemic and the movement for racial justice in the months following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. 

The Hill has reached out to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) office for additional information. 

The installation comes after crews spent more than 12 hours Thursday attempting to locate an 1887 time capsule that officials believed was buried within the 40-foot tall granite pedestal below the Lee statue. 

However, the AP noted that crews were unable to locate the original copper capsule, despite using ground-penetrating radar devices, a metal detector and other construction equipment. 

Northam’s chief of staff, Clark Mercer, told the AP after crews called off the search, “It’s disappointing not to find the time capsule.” 

“We looked where we thought it was,” he added. “It doesn’t preclude (us) in the future from finding it, but for right now, the mystery will continue.”

Hundreds of people had gathered in the area Wednesday to celebrate the removal of Lee’s statue, which for years had been considered by critics to be a lasting symbol of white supremacy. 

People cheered as a massive crane lifted the monument off the pedestal and onto the ground, before workers began cutting the statue into pieces so that it could be easily transported under highway overpasses to a state-owned facility, where it is expected to remain until a final decision about its placement is made. 

Northam first announced in June 2020 that the statue would be removed, though the project was delayed for more than a year due to lawsuits filed by a group of Richmond residents and a descendant of the family that gifted the statue to Virginia. 

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled unanimously earlier this month to move forward with the statue’s removal, arguing that the state government was not beholden to prior agreements that had previously prohibited the removal of monuments from state property. 

Northam was among the people who gathered Wednesday to watch the statue be taken down, writing in a statement afterward, “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.”

Tags BioNTech Black Lives Matter coronavirus pandemic Pfizer Ralph Northam richmond Robert E. Lee statue The Associated Press Time capsule Virginia

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