State Watch

Richmond installs concrete barriers around Lee statue slated for removal

Virginia officials have installed concrete barriers around the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Richmond’s Monument Ave. after protesters toppled several other statues in the state’s capital.

Crews installed the approximately 3-foot-tall barriers along the sidewalk around the statue Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

The move comes weeks after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced the statue, which has been a central rallying point for protests against racism and police brutality in the city, will be removed from its current location and placed in storage.

In a statement, the Virginia Department of General Services said it installed the barriers “to protect the safety of everyone speaking out to make their voices heard as well as the structure itself,” according to the AP.

The Lee statue and its pedestal have been extensively graffitied since the protests began after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a Kentuckian, was toppled by protesters earlier this month, as was the statue of Gen. Williams Carter Wickham and the Howitzers Monument near Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park campus. Protesters also toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus in the city’s Byrd Park and pushed it into a nearby lake.

Protesters in Richmond have called for the removal of all Confederate statues.

In addition to Lee and Davis, the statues that give the street Monument Ave. its name include Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and Confederate naval chief Matthew Maury.

Protesters used rope Tuesday evening to pull down the Howitzers monument, which was erected in the 1890s after the end of the Reconstruction era hours after Mayor Levar Stoney (D) announced that he had requested, and received, chief of police William Smith’s resignation.

Footage circulated over the weekend of a police SUV driving through a crowd of protesters near the Lee statue.

Tags Black Lives Matter Confederate monuments Confederate statues George Floyd Levar Stoney police brutality racism in America richmond Robert E. Lee Virginia

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