A Democrat, who is responsible for signing bills passed by the Virginia General Assembly, is expected to approve the relocation of a historical memorial to help ease civil unrest.
Gov. Ralph Northam is widely expected to confirm plans to remove the Confederate statue at the corner of Monument and North Allen avenues in Richmond.
A senior administration official revealed the governor will shortly announce the Gen. Robert E Lee Memorial’s dismantling after extreme protests swept across the Old Dominion and other parts of the nation in response to the death in custody of Minnesotan George Floyd. Local police allegedly handcuffed, kneed his throat, and he became unresponsive and later died on May 25.
The anonymous official predicts a crew will move the statue off the pedestal, on which it was mounted back in 1890, and temporarily store it until a new location is decided according to The Associated Press. No date was provided for exactly when the monument would be moved.
The statue is one of five Confederate monuments along iconic Monument Avenue, which lies within the National Historic Landmark district. These monuments were a focal point for recent protests against police brutality and some of them were covered in graffiti messages such as “end police brutality” and “stop white supremacy.”
Supporters of the relocation claim the statue is a disturbing reminder of the South’s history of slavery, while opponents believe removing the monuments would result in Richmonders forgetting the sacrifices and achievements of the Confederate States Army commander who is remembered as an American patriot and skilled tactician.
“Every avenue to oppose Gov. Ralph Northam’s illegal action is being actively researched,” the Monument Avenue Preservation Society said on Facebook. “We assure you, this will be vigorously opposed in every available forum. Richmonders–not a violent mob and a pathetic governor–should have the final say on preserving Monument Avenue.”
A Change.org petition to keep the statue in its current location has already attracted more than 234 signatures, while Republican candidate for governor Amanda Chase is collecting signatures on her campaign website.
“Northam is giving into looters and domestic terrorists instead of defending the historical monuments owned by all Virginians,” Chase said on her website. “We should learn from history not erase it. The radical left will not be satisfied until all white people are purged from our history books. Join me in opposing Northam and [Democratic Mayor Levar] Stoney’s plan, sign if you agree.”
Stoney confirmed other Confederate statues will be removed from city land, including those of President Jefferson Davis, Gen. Stonewall Jackson, and Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. The mayor has no authority over the Gen. Lee statue because that sits on Commonwealth land.
“We are implementing the Marcus Alert, committing to a Citizen Review Board, introducing an ordinance to remove Confederate monuments, and more,” he said on Twitter. “These are steps to the healing our city desperately needs. Thank you for your voices, and I look forward to working together.”