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Virginia evicts Confederate monuments from its state Capitol

Posted at 8:17 AM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 18:08:33-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia has removed from its iconic state capitol the busts and a statue honoring Confederate generals and officials.

That includes a bronze statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee positioned in the same spot where he stood to assume command of the state’s armed forces in the Civil War nearly 160 years ago.

Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn quietly ordered the Lee statue and busts of generals J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and others removed from the historic Old House Chamber.

A crew worked through the night Thursday to have them out of the Capitol by Friday morning.

Speaker Filler-Corn explained her reasons for ordering the removal to CBS 6.

"In light of these recent murders and the conversations we’ve been having, it was just so disturbing to walk through there and see having a room like this and honoring and paying homage to the Confederacy and more specifically to the enslavement of human beings," said Filler-Corn.

Travel Trip 5 Free Things Richmond
FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2007 file photo, a tour guide leads a tour in the Old Senate Chambers at the State Capitol in Richmond, Va. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Republican Senator Amanda Chase (Chesterfield) was critical of the move, saying it’s erasing history and that it was done in the middle of the night.

"I think we are erasing Virginia’s history instead of telling America, telling Virginia’s new history and showing the progress that we’ve made as Virginians," said Chase.

"In addition to removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee, artifacts recognizing the following persons who participated in the Confederacy were removed from the Old House Chamber," a spokesperson for Filler-Corn said.

The list includes:

  • Joseph E. Johnston
  • Fitzhugh Lee
  • Alexander H. Stephens
  • Thomas Bocock
  • Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson
  • James E.B. "Jeb" Stuart
  • Jefferson F. Davis
  • Matthew F. Maury

Filler-Corn also asked Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond) to lead the newly-formed Speaker's Advisory Group on State Capitol Artifacts. The group will "advise the Speaker on possible future actions related to State Capitol historical artifacts under House control."

Robert E. Lee statue removed from Virginia State Capitol

“Virginia has a story to tell that extends far beyond glorifying the Confederacy and its participants. The Confederacy's primary objective in the Civil War was to preserve an ideology that maintained the enslavement of human beings,” Filler-Corn said. “Now is the time to provide context to our Capitol to truly tell the Commonwealth's whole history. I look forward to Delegate McQuinn and the Advisory Group on State Capitol Artifacts to work to ensure our Capitol reflects the broad experience of all Virginians."

This is a developing story.