After years of arguments for the largest Confederate monument in the south to come down, which reached a boiling point after the death of George Floyd, the statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia was removed on Wednesday morning.
The 12-ton statue was removed and cut into two pieces, and will be placed in storage "until a permanent, appropriate location is chosen for its display," said Governor Ralph Northam in a statement on Wednesday.
"After 133 years, the statue of Robert E. Lee has finally come down—the last Confederate statue on Monument Avenue, and the largest in the South. The public monuments reflect the story we choose to tell about who we are as a people. It is time to display history as history, and use the public memorials to honor the full and inclusive truth of who we are today and in the future," said Northam.
"More than a year ago, the Northam Administration proposed removing the Lee Monument in Richmond. Court challenges prevented that action until last week, when the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the removal could move forward," the statement continued.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled last week that an obligation in which Virginia promised to "forever maintain the statue in the 1887 and 1890 deeds transferring its ownership to the state" no longer applies, according to the Associated Press.
"Those restrictive covenants are unenforceable as contrary to public policy and for being unreasonable because their effect is to compel ... the Commonwealth to express, in perpetuity, a message with which it now disagrees," the justices wrote.
Last summer, Northam announced that the statue would be removed, following the reigniting of conversations regarding the monument's removal after the death of George Floyd.
"In 2020, we can no longer honor a system that was based on the buying and selling of enslaved people. Yes, that statue has been there for a long time. But it was wrong then, and it is wrong now. So we're taking it down. I believe in a Virginia that studies its past in an honest way. I believe that when we learn more, we can do more. And I believe that when we learn more — when we take that honest look at our past — we must do more than just talk about the future," said Northam at the time, according to Axios.
According to NBC 12, the statue was unveiled in its current position in 1890, more than 20 years after Lee's death and the defeat of the Confederate States of America.
Northam said that the future removal of the 40-foot granite pedestal, now the only remaining part of the monument, "will be determined following a community-driven effort to reimagine Monument Avenue, including the state-owned property surrounding the monument and the pedestal."