Statues honoring two Confederate generals will finally be taken down in Charlottesville, officials said Friday, nearly four years after white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups stormed the Virginia college town to protect the monuments.
The bronze statues depicting Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson will be taken away on Saturday, and fencing around the monuments went up on Friday, according to a statement from the city of Charlottesville.
No-parking signs were placed Friday on blocks around Court Square and Market Street Park, where the statues will stand for one final night.
The statues of Lee and Jackson will be taken away while their “stone bases will be left in place temporarily and removed at a later date,” according to a city statement.
The statues will be stored for now, until the City Council decides to sell, destroy or otherwise dispose of them.
City officials are willing to hear from “any museum, historical society, government or military battlefield interested in acquiring the statues, or either of them, for relocation and placement,” the statement continued.
City efforts to remove that statues had been tied up for years in the courts. That was before the state Supreme Court in April overturned a Circuit Court decision in favor of a group of residents who sued to block Charlottesville from taking down the monuments.
The City Council voted last month, unanimously, to remove them. The Jackson statue has been up since 1921 and the Lee statue was first placed in 1924.
A welcomed move by #Charlottesville to stand on the right side of history & remove the Robert E. Lee statue –– the focal point of the 2017 Unite the Right rally.
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) July 9, 2021
The Southern Poverty Law Center praised the city, which it said now stands “on the right side of history.”
“Charlottesville residents have waited long enough,” the Alabama-based civil rights group said in a statement.
Charlottesville City Councilor Michael Payne retweeted City Hall’s announcement with a one-word response: “Tomorrow.”
— Michael Payne (@MPayneCville) July 9, 2021
White supremacist and neo-Nazi groups descended on Charlottesville in August 2017 for the violent “Unite the Right” rally to protest efforts to remove monuments to those infamous 19th century military leaders.
The protests turned deadly after James Alex Fields Jr. killed 32-year-old paralegal and civil rights activist Heather Heyer.
Fields, an Ohio man known for being fascinated with Nazism and idolizing Adolf Hitler, drove his car into a group of counter protesters. He’s now serving a life sentence.