A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is covered in red paint Sunday, June 28, 2020 in Charlottesville, Va.
(Erin Edgerton/The Daily Progress via AP)
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Nearly four years after hundreds of right-wing extremists marched in Charlottesville, two Confederate statues, one that sparked the deadly rally, are finally getting torn down.
The decision came Monday following a unanimous vote by the Charlottesville City Council in favor of removing the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, symbolizing the United States’ racist past. The city now has allocated 30 days for the public to send in proposals of what they think should happen to the statues, according to the Washington Post.
The two statues were set to be removed in 2017 thanks to community and city pressure, and the removal of Lee’s statue specifically drew heavy criticism from the alt-right. After the city announced plans to remove it, several extremist groups organized and descended on the city in a “Unite the Right” rally across the campus of University of Virginia. During the march, the white supremacists carried torches through the streets, chanted racial slurs, and clashed with counterprotesters, leaving 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead and many injured after a white supremacist drove a car through a crowd, according to NPR.
The city has asked any “museum, historical society, government or military battlefield interested in acquiring the Statues, or either of them, for relocation and placement,” to reach out by midnight Thursday with any requests to takeover ownership. Cities across the country are finding other ways to deal with Confederate statues, like auctioning them off to golf courses, which is creating tensions between groups who want them gone and others that would like to see them preserved.
The city is pushing to remove the statues before August 11-12, the four-year anniversary of the hate march, according to CNN.
The removal took this long because of legal blockades.
In a last-stand effort, a circuit court judge blocked the city’s attempt to take the statues down in 2017, according to court documents. State Judge Richard E. Moore made the decision, saying that the statues were considered war memorials—and in deep-red Virginia, it’s illegal to remove or alter such artifacts.
In April 2021, the Virginia Supreme Court overturned the 2017 decision, paving the way for the statues’ abolition. In the court documents, State Supreme Court Justice Bernard Goodwyn said the statues were archaic and constructed for times past.
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