The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was demolished in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, nearly four years after the white supremacist. protests the intention to get rid of him caused a quarrel when a woman was killed.
Shortly after Lee’s statue was removed, the statue of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was also removed from his base in another city park. The audience gathered a few hours earlier cheered as they loaded and dumped the statues into trucks.
Dozens of spectators lined up with the blocks surrounding the park and a sigh of relief rose as the statue of Lee rose from the pedestal. The presence of police was visible, fences and heavy trucks blocked the streets for vehicular traffic.
“Throwing out this statue is a small step toward helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America with the sin of being willing to destroy blacks for economic gain,” said Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker as the crane approached the monument.
States honoring the leaders of the Confederate side of slavery in the American Civil War have become the focus of anti-racism protests in recent years.
The people of the university planned to remove the statue of Lee in 2017 rally of white supremacists that became deadly when a self-described neo-Nazi entered the car into a crowd and killed a 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer.
A few weeks later the Charlottesville City Council unanimously ordered the removal of Jackson State.
Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallagher said the peaceful scene of the removal of the states on Saturday – a stark contrast to what happened in Charlottesville four years ago – “is a victory … a victory for Charlottesville and the people who are really campaigning.”
“Things have gone very well today and Charlottesville City Council, in my opinion, has made significant progress,” Gallagher reported.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which follows the far-right and white supremacist groups in the United States. he said since last month’s deadly attack on a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, “333 symbols have fallen against white supremacy” across the country.
But the group “continues with more than 2,000 symbols of hatred,” the group said.
‘After a long absence’
Jotaka Eaddy, CEO of the consulting firm Full Circle Strategies, said the Confederate monuments are “a symbol of white supremacy and racism.”
“It’s been a long time coming down for all of these statues, especially in Charlottesville,” Eaddy told Al Jazeera on Saturday, saying the removal of Lee and Jackson’s statues is a “step in the right direction”.
Citizens with the Virginia Division of the Children of the Confederate Veterans were sued in Charlottesville for their removal plans. In April, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the city could remove the two Confederate states, and overturned the decision of the State Circuit Court of Justice, which upheld the citizens’ case.
Charlottesville will keep the state in storage until a final decision is made on what to do with them, officials said in a statement Friday.
Kristin Szakos, a former Charlottesville City Council member, when she saw how the statue was removed, said “people in this community have been trying to get rid of these statues for a hundred years.”
He added: “In the end, I think we’re ready to be a community that doesn’t telegraph through our public art, we’re pretty good with white dominance.”
However, Eaddy told Full Circle Strategies that systemic racism continues to haunt the country.
He pointed extensive effort restricting voting rights in ways that disproportionately affect blacks after the 2020 U.S. presidential election, as well as trying to prohibit critical race theory, as they are issues to be addressed.
“The underpinning of this is racism and white supremacy and we need to rip this apart as much as we need to eradicate these symbols of hatred and racism in our nation,” Eaddy told Al Jazeera.