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Mayor of ex-US Confederacy capital orders removal of statues

Washington DC, July 1 (efe-epa).- The mayor of Richmond, Virginia, ordered Wednesday the immediate removal of statues from the former capital of the United States Confederacy.

Democratic Mayor Levar Stoney agreed to the requests of those who for 33 consecutive days demonstrated in the streets against the statues, considering them racist symbols.

“Today I ordered the immediate removal of Confederate monuments from their pedestals. This work, already underway, will continue over the next several days,” Stoney said in a video posted to social media.

The mayor said his decision was due to the coronavirus pandemic and the risks posed by the demonstrations, in which racial justice activists have tried to demolish the statues while confronting supporters of far-right groups.

Furthermore, Stoney argued that the immediate removal of the statues will allow the city to “heal” and “focus all our attention on our future.”

“It is past time,” he added. “As the capital city of Virginia, we have needed to turn this page for decades. And today we will.”

“Since the end of Richmond’s official tenure as the capital of the Confederacy 155 years ago, we have been burdened with that legacy.”

On Wednesday the Stonewall Jackson monument was removed from its pedestal along Monument Avenue as hundreds of people gathered to watch and cheer.

It comes weeks after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which has been stalled pending lawsuits.

Mayor Stoney said that the statues will be put into storage and their future will be decided later.

There have been ongoing protests across the US since the death on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, of African-American George Floyd, who died at the hands of a white police officer.

The protests have also been marked by attacks on and the demolition of statues across the country. The main targets of the protesters have been the Confederate symbols that abound, especially in southern states, such as Virginia.

According to the NGO Southern Poverty Law Center, most Confederate statues were not built to commemorate the Civil War, but erected later in the 20th century to intimidate activists fighting for equal rights for Black people.

Specifically, most of the monuments were built in the 1950s and 1960s when the US civil rights movement began to bloom. EFE-EPA

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