The 130-year-old Civil War statue of Robert E. Lee is expected to be removed as the legal challenges surrounding the largest remaining Confederate monument draw to a close.
“Virginia’s largest monument to the Confederate insurrection will come down this week,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a Commonwealth.”
The iconic statue weighs nearly 12 tons, standing 21 feet tall, while for the past 130 years, it has been on a 40-foot pedestal, Breitbart News reported.
Many lawsuits have been mounted over the years to have the monument taken down; however, a deed signed in 1890 prevented its removal.
The nationally recognized statue became the epicenter of Virginia’s protest movement after the death of George Floyd.
A descendent of the donation family, William Gregory fought the removal. He argued the original deed stated the state would view the monument and the ground it stands on as “perpetually sacred.”
Now that notion has been overturned after the Virginia Supreme Court ruled last week in the state’s favor and approved the statue’s demolition, UPI reports.
The court said in unanimous ruling there was no evidence in the original deed made with the state showing that he had any ownership interest in any land concerning the statute, “[t]hus, he has no property right related to the Lee monument,” allowing for it to be torn down.
The statue will be put in storage until a decision can be made on what to do with it and the graffiti that has gathered at the base over the past year.
“We are taking an important step this week to embrace the righteous cause and put the ‘Lost Cause’ behind us,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said, according to UPI.
“Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy. We are a diverse, open, and welcoming city, and our symbols need to reflect this reality.”
AP reports the statue is expected to be cut into pieces for transportation to an undisclosed storage site. At the same time, Northam administration promised to seek input from the public on the statue’s future.