Gov. Northam: Robert E. Lee statue to be removed from Richmond's Monument Avenue

Posted at 12:25 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 12:45:35-04

RICHMOND, Va. - On Thursday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced plans to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Richmond's Monument Avenue.

Once removed from its pedestal, the statue will be housed in storage until an appropriate location is determined.

"I’m no historian, but I strongly believe that we have to confront where we’ve been, in order to shape where we’re going," Northam said at a press conference announcing the monument's removal. "And in Virginia, for more than 400 years, we have set high ideals about freedom and equality, but we have fallen short of them."

Speakers joining the Governor at today’s announcement included City of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Reverend Robert W. Lee IV, Robert Johns, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Zyahna Bryant.

Northam is acting under his executive authority and Section § 2.2-2402 of the Code of Virginia, which provides the Governor the sole authority to approve the removal of a work of art owned by the Commonwealth upon submission of a plan to do so.

The Robert E. Lee monument was erected for and is owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia and is considered a work of art pursuant to Section 2.2-2401 of the Code of Virginia.

“Governor Ralph Northam today directed the Department of General Services to remove the state-owned Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond," a statement from the Department of General Services read. "DGS is taking steps to carry out this order as soon as possible. The size, scale and location of the monument will require careful planning, which is currently underway, to ensure it is completed safely and effectively.”

As for the state's other Confederate memorials, Northam said that legislation allowing cities to decide what to do with monuments in their communities—take them down, move them somewhere else, or add additional context—will take effect in four weeks.