Washington, Jul 10 (EFE).- A statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, which sparked a deadly rally in August 2017, was taken down by local authorities Saturday.
Plans to remove the statue four years ago sparked a white nationalist rally that turned deadly when a neo-Nazi protester drove his car into an anti-racist counter-demonstration, killing Heather Heyer.
The City of Charlottesville, population 47,000, announced in a statement Friday that two Confederate statues, one of Lee and the other of general Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, would be removed.
“Both statues will be stored in a secure location on City property until City Council makes a final decision on disposition,” the statement said.
The move was announced after a 100-year-old statue of a Confederate soldier was removed from the Albemarle County courthouse in the historic district of Charlottesville last September.
In August 2017, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and members of the Alt-Right gathered in Charlottesville to demonstrate against plans to remove Confederate statues, which are considered symbols of slavery and racism by critics.
After the 2017 protests, then-president Donald Trump stirred controversy when he said there was blame on “both sides” of the protest.
In 2020, Trump signed an executive order for law enforcement agencies to pursue maximum penalties for those found guilty of damaging or tearing down federal monuments, which can lead to 10 years in prison.
The order came at the height of the Black Lives Matter unrest following the murder of Black American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
Current president Joe Biden has since reversed a number of Trump policies, including the executive order on punishing statue vandalism.
The Confederacy, which lost the American Civil War (1861-65), wanted to secede after the Union abolished slavery. EFE