confederate monument

Those Charlottesville Confederate Monuments Are FINALLY Coming Down

The Robert E. Lee statue was removed 4 years after the violent white supremacist rally that shocked the nation.

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It’s been nearly 4 years since hundreds of white supremacists from across the country descended onto Charlottesville, Virginia for a “Unite the Right” rally. Armed with tiki torches and Nazi slogans, these domestic terrorists targeted Charlottesville after the city decided to remove its Confederate statues and rename two parks which bore the names of Confederate leaders. During the violent confrontation, dozens of people were injured and Heather Heyer, a civil rights activist, was murdered when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of protesters.

Now, after years of litigation and violent protests, those statues are coming down. The city of Charlottesville removed the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Market Street Park (formerly Lee Park) early this morning. The city also removed a statue of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson from Court Square Park.

Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker, who gave a speech at the monument removal, said “Taking down this statue is one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America, grapple with the sin of being willing to destroy Black people for economic gain.”

Activists have been trying to get the statues taken down for years, but it was a brave high school student, Zyahna Bryant, who led the charge in 2016 when she started a petition calling for their removal. What followed was countless lawsuits, before white supremacists glommed onto the controversy as their rallying cry. Bryant, who is currently enrolled at the University of Virginia, said “This is well overdue, … No platform for white supremacy. No platform for racism. No platform for hate.”

Bryant added, “The statues coming down is the tip of the iceberg, … There are larger systems that need to be dismantled. Educational equity is a good place to start.”

Many onlookers cheered and clapped as the statues were taken down and driven away:

Both statues, which have been up since the 1920s, will be stored until the City Council decides to sell, destroy or dispose of them. Under Virginia state law, the city is required to solicit parties interested in taking the statues during an offer period that ended Thursday. It received 10 responses to its solicitation, presumably from museums and historical societies, and possibly white supremacists looking for new lawn ornaments.

(via NPR, image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.