RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The statue depicting Matthew Fontaine Maury on Richmond’s Monument Avenue has come down.
8News saw contractors parked near the statue around 9 a.m. and we were told Maury would be the next statue to come down per Mayor Levar Stoney’s orders. Shortly after 10 a.m., the Confederate statue had been removed.
“We’re no longer putting Band-Aids on bleeders, we’re actually healing the wounds,” said Tracy McLean, a candidate for mayor who was at the removal.
McLean told 8News she supports the statues coming down, but doesn’t think it’s the right time, considering that the coronavirus pandemic is still affecting many Virginians.
“I am for the statues coming down,” she explained, “I’m just not for them coming down right at this moment, spending that money. We have a lot people that are getting evicted so I think people over statues any day.”
The Maury statue was not anchored to the pedestal like the Stonewall Jackson statue was, so it was easier and quicker for crews to remove. The statue was taken away on a flatbed truck.
According to government records, Maury was born in Spotsylvania county. During the Civil War, Maury was an officer in the Confederate navy, spending his time acquiring ships for war.
Before joining the Confederate navy, Maury was an oceanographer who studied wind currents and naval meteorology. Maury is often referred to as the father of modern oceanography.
The monument titled after Maury’s nickname “Pathfinder of the Seas” was unveiled in Richmond in 1929 at the intersection of Monument and Belmont avenues.
Those gathered to watch the statue being removed told 8News this is a historic moment.
“We’re actually in history, living in history right now. Instead of reading in it in a textbook you’re actually right here at the moment,” Brian Waters, Church Hill resident said. “You’re right here seeing things happen for yourself and you’re feeling for the first time that finally changes are happening.”
The Maury’s statue is the second Confederate statue to be removed this week. On Wednesday, Mayor Stoney ordered the removal of the Stonewall Jackson statue despite Richmond City Council not being able to vote on the removal of city-owned Confederate statues. The mayor used emergency powers and bypassed the city council’s vote.
“I guess I moved here from New York about 25 years ago and just could not believe these statues were built. I thought does the rest of the country know about this?” said Janice Scagnelli.
Scagnelli has wanted the monuments to be taken down for more than two decades. “Yesterday and today is amazing,” she said.
Moments after the Maury statue was taken away, two confederate cannon statues near the Jefferson Davis monument were taken down as well.