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Monumental step forward or historic loss? Richmond weighs in on pending Lee statue removal

Monumental step forward or historic loss? Richmond weighs in on pending Lee removal
Posted at 11:34 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 06:17:08-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Robert E. Lee Monument was installed in 1890. More than 130 years later, dozens came to the circle Monday to document its last days standing. Reaction to news of its upcoming removal was mixed.

Lawrence West, CEO of Black Lives Matter RVA, was one of several with the group that was seen grilling out and celebrating near the Lee Monument Monday.

"We’ve been out here for over a year and a half. And so, to hear that it’s coming down on Wednesday, it’s a long time coming," said West.

To West, the monument stood as a symbol of oppression.

"Now that it’s coming down, they know that that mindset is not right. That mindset shouldn’t be at the forefront of America. I shouldn’t have to see it. Point blank, period," West said.

Dozens came to the circle surrounding the monument, taking photos to document its last days standing on Monday.

"We wanted to see it one last time just before it goes down," a Richmond resident, who didn't want to be identified, said.

He joined several in the area Monday evening who indicated to CBS 6 that they were sad to see it go.

"If I had to say, I’d personally hope it would stay up for no other reason that it’s been Richmond’s history. You know, for better or worse. And it is interesting to see."

Andrew Morehead, Legislative Committee Chair and Spokesperson for the Virginia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, reacted to the news Monday saying it was a 'sad day for all of Virginia.'

"It's hard to articulate into words, to say that that you're saddened is the understatement of the century," said Morehead.

He believed not only would removing the monument have negative economic repercussions, but that the meaning behind the statue was being misconstrued.

"I think it is reverence, reverence for the dead. Paying tribute to, in this instance, the greatest Virginian," Morehead said.

Meanwhile, Monument Avenue residents like Paul and Julie Weissend, said while they initially enjoyed the aesthetic, they now believe the statue’s removal was overdue.

"There are all these different things that have happened systemically against people of our community and it’s time to educate ourselves and change it," said Julie. "So hopefully, this is going to be the wake-up call. Enough. We've got to do things differently."