RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — By the end of the day Thursday, contractors had removed almost all of Richmond’s Confederate statues, with another three coming down before a judge blocked further action from the city for 60 days.
Even before the injunction, Thursday was the last scheduled day of monument removal. A spokesperson for Mayor Levar Stoney said they were taking more time to research if the A.P. Hill statue can be removed since the Confederate general is buried there.
On Thursday morning, crews returned to the former site of the Matthew Fontaine Maury statue to remove the globe that topped the pedestal–a tribute to his oceanography. The statue of Maury himself was removed last week.
People gathered from near and far to watch crews finish the job.
“I don’t think this is erasing history, this is making history,” said Dick Mercer, who has lived near the statue for almost 50 years. “I think of it as a big chance, a big opportunity.”
Hank Harris and Jane Pampillonia drove to Monument Avenue from Washington D.C. early Thursday morning. Harris is originally from Australia.
“It felt pretty powerful to see something quite imposing be taken down, especially when people began to cheer for the city employees,” Harris said.
Work crews then moved onto the Gen. Fitzhugh Lee memorial at Monroe Park, followed by the Joseph Bryan statue. Bryan, a newspaper publisher who owned the Richmond Times-Dispatch, served in a battalion for the Confederate army known as the Mosby’s Rangers.
“Witnessing this statue being removed, it’s just peace of mind that change is being made,” said JaQuam Borders. “It’s a very emotional feeling for so many people who have endured so much hurt and baggage.”
Jacob Foster was the only person at Monroe Park verbally opposing the statue removal, arguing that men can’t fix racism ‘without our savior Jesus Christ.’ He said taking down the statues has further divided people.
“I’ve seen more Confederate fags flown. I’ve seen more racism towards the African American peaceful protesters and bigotry against white people who aren’t participating in the protests and are calling for unity for all races,” Foster said.
On Wednesday, several other Confederate symbols were taken from their pedestals. Richmond removed parts of the Jeff Davis Statue from Monument Avenue just hours after they removed the massive 17-foot-tall Confederate Soldiers and Sailors statue in Libby Hill.
So far the following Confederate symbols have been removed from the city:
- 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
- J.E.B. Stuart
- Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Statue
- Jeff Davis Monument
On July 6, Mayor Stoney tweeted out a link to a fundraiser asking for the community’s help to cover removal costs. It is estimated that it will cost the city $1.8 million. So far the “Move the Monuments” fundraiser has more than $23,000.