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Charlottesville mayor and activist address statue removal

Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 11:48 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - July 10, 2021 will be a day that sticks with many people in the city of Charlottesville and beyond. It’s the day two confederate statues were removed out of city parks. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson no longer have a home in Charlottesville.

“This should have happened a long time ago,” activist and founder of the 2016 petition to remove the statues Zyahna Bryant said.

A bronze statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee had overlooked Market Street Park since 1917. Conversations surrounding its removal in 2016 led to the Unite the Right rally at the park in August of 2017.

“Our community battles with the falsities that have created to enshrine and preserved whiteness as supreme,” Charottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker said. “Taking down this statue is one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America grapple with its sin of being willing to destroy black people for economic gain.”

Early on the morning of July 10, a crane lifted Lee from its base. The statue wavered through the air to applause from the crowd before being placed on a flatbed truck and hauled to city storage.

“The object was only important because of the race of the man who sat upon the horse,” Walker said. “His greatest honor was his whiteness and the treason that he committed in the attempt to preserve the great American tradition of being able to enslave, rape, pillage, and murder black people for economic gain.”

While the statue is no longer in place, Bryant says the work towards equity isn’t done.

“The work of removing the statute is only the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “There is so much work left to do to address affordable housing, to address policing, to address the wealth gap.”

“Today the statue comes down and we are one small step closer to a more prefect union,” Walker said.

Following the removal of Lee, the same crew began work at Historic Court Square where the statue of General Stonewall Jackson was also dismantled.

“Our administration made it clear that we would be able to take them down,” Walker said. “It’s legal to do so and there’s no need for it to stay another moment.”

The stone slabs where the statues once stood still remain in the parks. City council is still deciding what to do with them.

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