Plan: Richmond's Lee Statue Would Be Cut Apart, Reassembled

The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, unveiled in 1890, stands at the center of Lee Circle along Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.
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The state of Virginia plans to remove the large statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Richmond's Monument Avenue by cutting it into three sections and then reassembling it elsewhere.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that statue's removal still depends on a court's approval. A judge recently halted removal plans after a lawsuit was filed against taking down the monument.

Meanwhile, the state has been figuring out how it could deconstruct the 13-ton sculpture, which depicts Lee riding a horse.

A state review board recently approved a plan that calls for a crane to remove the 21-foot statue from its 40-foot pedestal. The bronze statue would then be taken apart because it's too tall to go under bridges.

Conservator B.R. Howard Conservation said the removal would require cutting the metal “along original casting joints or along the edges of cast elements or sculpted folds.” The firm said the entire process will leave “little evidence of cutting and reassembly.”

One section of the sculpture includes the base and horse’s legs. Another would be the horse’s body and head as well as Lee’s lower body. The third section would be Lee from the waist up.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the statue because of the pain that gripped the country over the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis.

Floyd’s death sparked global protests against racism and police brutality and led to a re-examination of statues and monuments of historical figures around the world.

Because of a lawsuit, the planned removal of Richmond's Lee statue has been blocked at least temporarily by a court injunction.

An amended complaint lays out the family history of the plaintiff — a descendant of a couple who were among the grantors of the land the statue now sits on, which eventually became state property.

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff, 69-year-old William C. Gregory, would face “irreparable harm” if the statue were removed.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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