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Statue of US Confederate general to be removed in Virginia

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The city of Charlottesville, Virginia, announced plans to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a public park./AFP
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Jul 10, 2021 - 10:59 AM

WASHINGTON — The US city of Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist rally turned deadly in 2017, announced on Friday that it would remove the statue of a general of the pro-slavery Civil War South that has been a focal point of protests.

The statue of General Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Army of Northern Virginia during the 1861-65 Civil War, would be removed on Saturday from Market Street Park, the city said in a statement.

A statue of another Confederate general, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, would be removed the same day from nearby Court Square Park, it said.

The Charlottesville City Council passed a resolution last month authorizing removal of the statues and their placement in storage.

Tensions over the fate of the Lee statue led to violence in August 2017 when a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of demonstrators in Charlottesville, killing a woman.

The protestors had gathered in opposition to white supremacists who staged a “Unite the Right” rally against plans to remove the statue of Lee.

Describing the protestors, then president Donald Trump came under fire from critics when he said there were “very fine people on both sides.”

The Charlottesville violence gave new life to a campaign to remove Confederate symbols which first gained momentum following the June 2015 murders in South Carolina of nine black churchgoers by an avowed white supremacist.

The campaign picked up again following the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd, an African American man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Defenders of preserving the Confederate symbols have argued that they serve as a reminder of a proud Southern heritage, and removing them is erasing history.

According to historians, most of the hundreds of Confederate monuments dotting the southern United States were erected during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation and in response to the civil rights movement.

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