Disassembly work underway on Lee pedestal in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Disassembly work on an enormous pedestal that until recently held a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee commenced Wednesday morning in Virginia’s capital city.

A crew atop scaffolding and a large crane truck worked to dislodge and lift away a hunk of the stone pedestal in Richmond. It marked an early step in what’s expected to be a weekslong process.

Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration announced plans Sunday to remove the pedestal, which sits in the middle of a traffic circle along the city’s historic Monument Avenue. The governor also announced plans to convey the state-owned site to the city after the pedestal is removed.

Sunday’s announcement marked a reversal from September, when the statue was removed but the Northam administration said the pedestal would remain in place while a process to reimagine the future of Monument Avenue played out. Other Confederate statuary was removed from the residential boulevard last summer following the protest movement ignited by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The removal comes just before Northam leaves office and GOP Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin, who has expressed less enthusiasm about the statue’s removal, is sworn in.

The state has said the removal work is expected to be substantially complete by Dec. 31.

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