Statues honoring two Confederate generals came down Saturday, nearly four years after white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups stormed the Virginia college town to protect it.
The removal of the bronze statues depicting Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson “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,” Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker told reporters and observers in a speech near the monument.
The Jackson statue has been up since 1921, and the Lee statue was first placed in 1924. They will be stored until the City Council decides to sell, destroy or otherwise dispose of them.
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Under state law, the city was required to solicit parties interested in taking the statues during an offer period that ended Thursday. It received 10 responses to its solicitation.
White supremacist and neo-Nazi groups descended on Charlottesville in August 2017 for a 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 counterprotesters. He’s now serving a life sentence.
The most recent removal push focused on the Lee monument began in 2016, thanks in part to a petition started by a Black high school student, Zyahna Bryant, who’s now a student at the University of Virginia.
“This is well overdue,” Bryant told The Associated Press. “No platform for white supremacy. No platform for racism. No platform for hate.”