RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The J.E.B Stuart monument in Richmond has come down, per Mayor Levar Stoney’s orders, after more than 110 years.
8News observed crews arriving at the statue around 7:40 a.m. Crews blocked off Lombardy Street and Monument Avenue at the Stuart Circle. Nearly an hour later crews began gathering ropes and more equipment trucks have arrived on the scene. By 11:00 a.m. the statue was down and being loaded onto a flatbed.
Last week, Mayor Levar Stoney said he would be using his powers as the Director of Emergency Management to remove 11 monuments in the city. A sheriff’s deputy told 8News that the Stuart statue is the only monument coming down Tuesday.
So far the following have been removed:
- Stonewall Jackson
- Matthew Fontaine Maury
- Cannon sitting atop a pedestal just west of the Arthur Ashe memorial
- Cannon near the statue memorializing the President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis
Beth Almore, a Richmond Public Schools music teacher, was there to watch the monument get removed. To express her flood of emotions, Almore used what she knows best: a bow and cello.
“I think we’re at a crisis in this country but a crisis can really lead to systemic change,” Almore told 8News.
Almore played as the statue was taken off its pedestal Tuesday, a moment she dedicated to her great-great-grandmother, Rachel Robinson Burns, who was enslaved. “The cello gives me a platform,” she explained.
Stuart’s removal comes after weeks of unrest across Virginia and the country.
“If it takes this much effort to get a statue removed, what is it going to take to get systemic racism dismantled in this country?” Almore asked.
Almore told 8News there’s a common misconception she wants to eliminate.
“A lot of people still think that racism only affects people who break the law and people who aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing anyway,” she said. “I have two Ivy League degrees, I am a middle class person from a middle class background from an intact African American family that went to church every Sunday. I play classical, western classical instruments and I am still impacted by racism.”
Not everyone wants to see the Confederate monuments removed. Some groups, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, argue that history must be preserved even if it’s painful.
A spokesperson for the Sons of Confederate Veterans said last week that this is a sad time, adding that the group will be working to get private land to put up their own Confederate monuments.