A Confederate statue was removed in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday morning, three years after a “Unite the Right” rally where a woman was killed and dozen injured when a white supremacist plowed his car into a group of counterprotesters.
Nearly 500 people watched on Facebook Live as the “At Ready” statue, which was erected in 1909 and depicts a Confederate soldier in uniform with two cannons and cannonballs, was lifted off its base amid sporadic cheers and applause from a crowd of dozens of people at the scene.
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“There has been a robust, community-driven process to bring us to this moment,” Ned Gallaway, chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, said in a press release of the removal that was streamed on Facebook Live. The county board voted last month to remove the statue in front of the county courthouse.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a pre-recorded statement that it was a “historic day” as the state continues efforts “to be more inclusive” and to acknowledge that “racial discrimination is rooted in the laws that ruled our Commonwealth.”
“As we reckon with Virginia’s past,” said Northam, “symbols do matter.”
The “At Ready” statue was not the focal point of the white nationalist rally on Aug. 12, 2017, that shook the nation after the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer, 32, and the injury of dozens more. But it was a block away from the Robert E. Lee statue that white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups at the rally said they were defending.
Charlottesville’s city council has voted to remove both Lee and a nearby monument to fellow Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, but a small group of Confederate supporters filed a lawsuit to save them, The Associated Press reported. The case is headed to the Supreme Court of Virginia and could take months to be resolved.
Albemarle County will continue to livestream “At Ready’s” removal until the statue’s base its removed. Some experts believe there’s a time capsule inside the base since its existence is referenced in some from old news clippings from the 1900s.