More than a dozen monuments to Confederate heroes have been erected in Richmond; all of them are soon to be demolished by the order of the city’s mayor.
The statue of Confederate Army General Thomas Jonathan Jackson, also known as “Stonewall,” was demolished on Wednesday by the mayor of Richmond, the capital of Virginia. Teams of workers used a giant construction crane to remove the imposing equestrian statue from a concrete pedestal located on Monument Avenue in Richmond, which was the capital of the Southern States during the Civil war of 1861-1865. This happened just an hour after Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the demolition of all monuments to Confederate heroes erected in the city.
Levar Stoney issued the ruling a few weeks after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered the removal of a monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee located on state-owned land. The process of demolishing the statue was suspended, pending the completion of several lawsuits initiated by opponents of this decision.
Monuments to the Confederate heroes of the southern States were erected decades after the end of the Civil war, in the era of Jim Crow. The first monument to General Robert E. Lee was established in Richmond in 1890. On Wednesday, the demolition of the statue of Jackson was welcomed by a crowd of several hundred people who gathered to watch the monument being dismantled. Trucks carrying demolition equipment were also seen today at other Confederate monuments in Richmond. There are more than ten such monuments on municipal land, including a statue of another Confederate General, Jeb Stewart.
The mayor of Richmond said on Wednesday that the removal of all the monuments would take several days. Levar Stoney asked the workers to hurry up, explaining that the protesters had already demolished several monuments to the confederates themselves. The head of the city expressed concern that the spontaneous demolition of giant statues may cause people to suffer.
Stoney regarded the failure of state authorities to demolish the monuments as “a serious and growing threat to public safety.”
Protests in Richmond, whose participants demand, among other things, the demolition of monuments and heroes of the Confederacy, have been going on for more than a month.
According to Stoney, it was “high time” for the state authorities to remove the monuments to send a clear message that Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, is no longer a place where symbols of black oppression and white supremacy are perpetuated.
On Wednesday, a new law came into force in Virginia, giving the authorities of Richmond control over monuments installed in the state capital. The bill also provides for the process of demolishing statues, which must take at least 60 days. However, on Wednesday morning, Stoney used emergency powers to order the demolition of the monuments, without waiting for a vote in the City Council, which was due to take place on Thursday.
“Today, I have the opportunity to do this using emergency power,” the mayor said.” I think we should act today.” Teams of workers arrived at the Jackson statue about an hour after the announcement.