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Work crews at Lee monument: 'The monument will not be removed today'

Inspecting the Lee monument
Posted at 8:33 AM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 18:36:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A crane and work crews stationed around the Robert E. Lee monument on Monument Avenue in Richmond are there to “inspect” the statue.

“The monument will not be removed today,” a spokesperson for the Department of General Services said via email Monday morning. “[The inspection] is part of our planning to remove the statue as soon as possible, and to do it safely, as Governor Northam ordered.”

Confederate Monuments Richmond
EDS NOTE: OBSCENITY - An inspection crew from the Virginia Department of General Services inspect the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue Monday June. 8, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered the removal of the statue. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Governor Northam ordered the statue honoring the Confederate general removed last week as both peaceful protests and violent riots occurred in Richmond, and other parts of the state, following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Northam said now was the time to deal with symbols that honor the cause of division in the commonwealth, which is home to more Confederate commemorations than any other state.

“It was wrong then and it’s wrong now. So, we’re taking it down,” Northam said.

The governor said the monument would be placed in storage until a permanent home was found.

America Protests Confederate Monuments
An inspection crew from the Virginia Department of General Services inspect the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue Monday June. 8, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered the removal of the statue. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

“This is an old and heavy piece. The massive statue weighs approximately 12 tons, stands 21 feet tall, and has been on a 40-foot pedestal for 130 years,” the spokesperson continued. “Meticulous planning is required to remove an aging monument of this size and scale safely.”

America Protests Confederate Monuments
An inspection crew from the Virginia Department of General Services inspect the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue Monday Jun. 8, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered the removal of the statue. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Lee monument sits on state land, giving the governor the power to order its removal. The remaining Confederate moments that dot Monument Avenue are on city land. Richmond City Council is expected to vote this week to have those monuments removed.

The state predicted the inspection would be completed on Monday.