Charlottesville will demolish the controversial Robert E Lee statue at the center of 2017 hate protests

A controversial statue of League overview Robert E. Lee it was the focal point of the 2017 extreme white “Unity of the Right” rally that died in Charlottesville, Virginia, will be melted down and turned into a work of anti-racism art.

On Tuesday, the Charlottesville city council voted 4-0 to donate the Confederate leader’s statue to an African American history museum, which plans to melt down the 1,100-pound monument and Combine materials into a new composition. Organizers of public art say they will “transform the national symbol of white supremacy into a new work of art that will reflect racial equity and inclusion.” “

The statue will be moved to the Jefferson School’s African American Heritage Center. The center plans to refurbish the statue as part of a project it calls “Swords Into Plowshares,” beating five other bids on what to do with the offending monument, as well as an offer to buy the statue. for nearly $100,000.

The center is still studying what materials it will make and said in a videotapes promoting its campaign that the installation would be a “community-based project” and that any design would be based on a “six-month community engagement process where residents of Charlottesville can participate.” participate in forums to help determine how the social value of inclusion can be expressed through art and public spaces. ”

The monument was not erected during the Civil War, but in 1921, between the rise of the white extremist terrorist group Klu Klux Klan and a broader cultural effort to restore the South’s heroic past during the Jim Crow segregation.

For many of the city’s residents, the statue, a man willing to join the cause of secession from the United States before renouncing slavery, is a symbol of racist violence.

Nearly 100 years later, that violence has become literal, as plans to remove the statue in 2017 inspired hundreds of far-right protesters to riot the city during the infamous “Union” protest. right-wing union”.

There, protesters holding torches chanted, “The Jews will not replace us!”, and a white supremacist drove a car through the protesting crowd and Protesters were killed Heather Heyer.

Following the violence, community members covered the statue with graffiti, and officials continue to plan to have it removed, taking it off the premises this summer. Some community members opposed the removal, arguing that it violated a hard-to-repeat state law banning the removal of war memorials, but the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the plan in April.

The statue of Lee isn’t the only Confederate monument built in the state. On Sunday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced that a pedestal was being used to house their own monument to Lee in Richmond, the former Confederate capital.

“This land between Richmond, and the Richmonders will determine the future of this space,” said Northam said at that time. “The Commonwealth will be removing the pedestal and we anticipate a safe removal and a successful end to this project. Charlottesville will demolish the controversial Robert E Lee statue at the center of 2017 hate protests


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