Black activists, allies call Lee statue removal a big win

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Protesters sit near the statue of Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Wes Bellamy, a former Charlottesville city councilman, said that when he first started raising the issue of removing Confederate monuments, black and white people alike across Virginia told him he was just causing trouble.

Several years — and death threats — later, Bellamy said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement Thursday that one of the nation’s most iconic tributes to the Confederacy would be taken down feels like divine intervention.

“We’ve slayed Goliath,” Bellamy said.

After days of global unrest over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck while he pleaded for air, Northam announced the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee near downtown Richmond will be removed from its 40-foot-tall granite pedestal as soon as possible. The governor said it will go into storage while his administration seeks public input about its future.