The statue of a Confederate soldier that stood in the center of an intersection in Old Town Alexandria was removed early Tuesday.
Photos taken by Mayor Justin Wilson show a crew using a crane to take the statue off its pillar at Washington and Prince streets. Red straps wrap around its waist.
“Alexandria, like all great cities, is constantly changing and evolving,” Wilson said in posts to social media.
The statue owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy was removed by the group, the mayor said.
“The removal had been planned for July, but given events they accelerated it,” Wilson said.
Dozens of people stopped to see the historic change and take photos.
“Thank God!” Nina Greene shouted on a Facebook Live video, standing in front of the empty pedestal.
“I was literally standing in traffic crying,” she said in an interview. She was among those who fought to relocate the statue.
Elijah Griffin Sr. grew up nearby, seeing the statue every day. He said he wished his parents had lived to see the statue removed.
“I’m pretty sure they would have loved to see the day the statue came down,” he said.
Two people who opposed the removal of the statue declined to appear on camera.
The city and Daughters of the Confederacy had been in touch regularly about its removal, City Councilman John Chapman said.
The group did not immediately respond to inquiries.
The bottom half of the statue is set to be removed in July. There’s no word yet on where it will end up.
The Appomattox statue, erected in 1889, memorializes about 100 Alexandria residents killed while fighting for the Confederacy. Flowers are often placed at its base.
Protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck, targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities last weekend.
Monuments in Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Mississippi were defaced as tense protests swelled across the country Saturday into Sunday morning.
A fire burned for a time at Daughters of the Confederacy headquarters in Richmond. The group is responsible for erecting many Confederate statues and fighting their removal. The building was covered in graffiti.
Photos posted to social media late Saturday and early Sunday showed the bases of at least two statues in Richmond — those of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart — almost entirely covered in graffiti. A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis had “cops ran us over,” spray-painted on the base. A noose had been flung over Davis’ shoulder.
A commission in the state capital, which was the capital of the Confederacy, recommended removing one of five Confederate statues along the city’s famed Monument Avenue.
Virginia is the state where the debate over Confederate monuments has perhaps attracted the most attention, after a 2017 white nationalist rally over Charlottesville's proposed removal of such monuments turned deadly.
In Norfolk, protesters climbed a Confederate monument and spray-painted graffiti on its base, according to photos posted by a Virginian-Pilot journalist. Norfolk is among the Virginia cities that have signaled intent to remove their Confederate monuments. In February, state lawmakers approved legislation that would give cities autonomy to do so.