Richmond’s Confederate Soldiers and Sailors statue dismantled, latest monuments to come down

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Work crews in Virginia’s capital city on Thursday dismantled the final piece of a monument honoring a Confederate naval commander and scientist, following last week’s order from Mayor Levar Stoney to clear away all city-owned Confederate statues amid weeks of protests against police brutality and racism.

A statute of Matthew Fontaine Maury was removed last week, but a large bronze globe that was part of the monument was left behind. The Maury statue was unveiled in 1929 — the last of five Confederate statues erected on Richmond’s Monument Avenue.

Workers remove the statue of Confederate Naval officer Matthew Fontaine Maury on Monument Avenue Thursday July 2, 2020, in Richmond, Va. 

Workers remove the statue of Confederate Naval officer Matthew Fontaine Maury on Monument Avenue Thursday July 2, 2020, in Richmond, Va.  (AP)

Four other monuments were removed last week, and a statue of Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was taken down by crews Tuesday.

On Wednesday, workers used a crane to pluck a bronze female figure known as the South’s Vindicatrix from the remains of a monument to Jefferson Davis, the Washington Post reported. Crews also on took down the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Work to remove the statues began on July 1, the day a new state law took effect giving local authorities control over war memorials on their property.

Stoney said he was invoking his emergency powers to immediately remove the statues, saying he was concerned about public safety amid continuing protests and fears that protesters could get hurt if they tried to bring down the enormous statues themselves.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by an unnamed plaintiff asks for an emergency injunction to halt the removal of the statues. The lawsuit alleges that Stoney violated state law by ordering the immediate removal of the monuments.

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Richmond’s largest statue left standing is on state land — the massive monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Its removal, under the orders of Gov. Ralph Northam, has been blocked at least temporarily by a court injunction.

The statues were erected in the decades after the Civil War, an era when Southern states were pushing back on the gains made by African Americans.

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A growing number of these Confederate symbols are being removed, prompted by nationwide protests against police brutality and racism following the police custody death of George Floyd in May.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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