By Cody Mello-Klein | [email protected]
The Appomattox, a Confederate statue that sat at the intersection of Prince and Washington streets and depicted a south-facing Civil War soldier, was taken down early Tuesday morning.
As a Confederate memorial, the statue has been a source of a decades-long controversy. Conversation about removing the statue has been ongoing, but the statue remained in place due to a state law that prohibited localities from removing monuments dedicated to veterans.
After Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) signed into law new legislation authorizing localities to remove Confederate war monuments, the city has been engaging with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the group that owns the statue, to decide when and how to move the monument.
The UDC responded last week saying it would remove the statue in July, Mayor Justin Wilson said. But, given the protests occurring across the country against racism, police brutality and the country’s history of both in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer, the UDC decided to remove the statue Tuesday morning.
“They contacted the city apparently last night, given what is going on, and asked to accelerate it,” Wilson said.
The UDC has determined a new location for the statue but have not told the city where that new location is, Councilor John Chapman said.
“I think they found a place for it. We don’t know where that is because they haven’t told us. I don’t think they’re gonna tell us, which is fine, but I don’t believe it’s in the city,” Chapman said.
The city’s goal to remove the statue is part of a broader policy of expanding the scope of what history – and whose history – is told in the city, which includes the city’s acquisition of the Freedom House in March.