Three years years after the white-supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a confederate monument in the town is coming down.
A crew of workers clad in masks and surrounded by social-distancing barricades worked Saturday to remove “At Ready,” a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier erected outside the Albemarle County courthouse in 1909. While not the focus of the 2017 neo-Nazi show-down, the statue is located just blocks from the monument that the groups hosting the event claimed they wanted to protect.
The statue—which weighs nearly 7,000 pounds, including its cannons and cannonballs—will be relocated to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, which preserves Civil War battlefields in Virginia. The removal will cost more than $60,000, county spokeswoman Emily Kilroy told The New York Times.
The removal of the statue, which took more than eight hours, was livestreamed on the county’s Facebook and YouTube pages to promote social distancing. The crowds gathered in-person could be heard cheering when the statue was finally dislodged.
The monument is the first to be removed under a new Virginia law that created a process for removing Civil War statues. The Albemarle County board of supervisors voted unanimously to remove it on Aug. 7.
Ned Gallaway, Chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, said at the time that the removal of the statue was not an “end point.”
“We have a lot of work to do and that work is in our policy work, in affordable housing, in our schools, we know we have a long way to go,” he said, according to a local CBS station.
The Charlottesville City Council has also voted to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that was the focus of the Unite the Right rally, but a group of confederate supporters has sued to stop it. The case is headed to the Virginia Supreme Court in November. Gov. Ralph Northam’s order to remove another Lee statue on state property was also stayed by a judge in June.
Local governments have successfully removed confederate monuments in South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, and several other states this summer, after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officers. Protesters in Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina have also attempted to remove such statues themselves.
On Saturday, Gallaway said that removing the “At Ready” statue would “disarm our court square and embrace another step toward making the eternal promise of an equitable and inclusive Albemarle county a reality.”
“Much like Martin Luther King Jr., we believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality,” he said.