Virginia to Remove Confederate Statue of Robert E. Lee After Repeated Vandalism During Protests

Virginia is set to remove a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, after the memorial sculpture was vandalized multiple times amid the George Floyd protests.

"Think about the message that this sends to people coming from around the world to visit the capital city of one of the largest states in our country or to young children. What do you say when a six-year-old African-American little girl looks you in the eye and says, 'What does this big statue mean? Why is it here?'" Governor Ralph Northam said at a press conference Wednesday explaining why the statue will be removed.

"When a young child looks up and sees something that big and prominent, she knows that it must be important. And when it's the biggest thing around it sends a clear message – this is what we value the most. But that's just not true anymore. You see, in Virginia we no longer preach a false version of history," Northam said, adding that the Civil War was not fought for state rights, but instead "the evils of slavery."

Northam said that even though the statue has been there for "a long time," it was wrong to have it erected and it will be taken down.

The Robert E. Lee statue is one of five Confederate statues that currently stand on Monument Avenue in Richmond; the others commemorate Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart and Matthew Fontaine Maury. Several of the statues were defaced and vandalized as protesters in Richmond marched for justice over the death of George Floyd.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said at the Wednesday press conference he is proposing the other four monuments also be removed.

"It's time to heal, ladies and gentleman," Stoney said, adding "Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy," which drew applause from the people present at the press conference.

"The decision announced by the governor today and the ordinance I will propose to our City Council to remove all of our city controlled monuments on Monument Avenue signal a new day for our city and for our Commonwealth," Stoney said.

"As a 39-year-old black man, the grandson of a housekeeper, and the son of a janitor I couldn't be more proud of the decision we have made," he said.

Newsweek reached out to the governor's office for comments on the four other Confederate statues on Richmond's Monument Avenue, but it did not respond back in time for publication.

Updated 2:01 PM ET, with Stoney's comments.

Robert E. Lee statue
RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 15: A statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee towers over Monument Avenue on September 15, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. Recent controversy over plans to remove some Confederate statues in cities across America has focused attention on Monument Avenue in Richmond, which is home to several prominent statues. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images/Getty