Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to order the imminent removal of one of Richmond's controversial memorials: the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
According to the Associated Press, the Democratic lawmaker will announce his plans Thursday, amid nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. The statue, located on Richmond's Monument Avenue, has been targeted with graffiti and other forms of vandalism over the past week, as city residents have taken to the street demanding justice for George Floyd—a 46-year-old black man who died at the hands of Minnesota police.
The Lee statue was erected in 1890 and has increasingly become a point of contention among Virginia residents. While some community members insist the monument is an important war memorial that should remain, many others have called for its removal, calling it a towering symbol of white supremacy.
"That is a symbol for so many people, black and otherwise of a time gone by of hate and oppression and being made to feel less than," Del. Jay Jones, a black lawmaker from Norfolk, told the AP.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also announced Wednesday he and Councilman Mike Jones will introduce a measure next month to remove all Confederate monuments along Monument Avenues. These include the statues memorializing Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.
"I appreciate the recommendations of the Monument Avenue Commission — those were the appropriate recommendations at the time," Stoney said. "But times have changed, and removing these statues will allow the healing process to begin for so many Black Richmonders and Virginians. Richmond is no longer the Capital of the Confederacy — it is filled with diversity and love for all — and we need to demonstrate that."