RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Work crews have begun taking down an enormous monument to Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, the third major Confederate statue to be cleared away in Richmond in less than a week as the Confederacy’s former capital rushes to remove symbols of oppression in response to protests against police brutality and racism.
Crews blocked off the area and brought in a cherry picker and a crane on Tuesday, with plans to use power tools to separate the 22-foot-high bronze equestrian statue from its base. Then, they’ll strap it in a harness and use the crane to lift it onto a truck to be driven away.
The Stuart statue was installed on Richmond’s Monument Avenue in 1907, a time when white leaders across the South sought to glorify the â€˜lost causeâ€™ of the Civil War and suppress attempts by Black people to assert their equality.
It depicts James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart, commander of the Cavalry Corps of Robert E. Leeâ€™s Army of Northern Virginia, in full uniform with a sword at his side, turned east as his horse faces north, atop a granite base.
Inscriptions on the base of the statue are filled with accolades to Stuart, who was fatally wounded by a Union soldier and died at age 31 on May 12, 1864.
â€œHe gave his life for his country and saved his city from capture,â€ reads one inscription.
The Stuart monument is one of several targeted by protesters in Richmond since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 prompted nationwide demonstrations. Police declared an unlawful assembly on June 21 after protesters tried to pull down the statue with ropes.
Mayor Levar Stoney, citing his emergency powers, ordered the removal of all city-owned Confederate statues on July 1. A statue of Stonewall Jackson was removed that day, followed the next day by a statue of Naval officer Matthew Fontaine Maury. The Stuart statue has been the last major statue left, other than a massive statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that’s located on state land.
The Lee monument also is slated for removal, but that has been blocked at least temporarily by an injunction issued in one of several lawsuits filed after Gov. Ralph Northam ordered its removal last month.