Statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee taken down in Charlottesville

Une statue du général confédéré Robert E. Lee a été retirée à Charlottesville, en Virginie, après qu’un juge local a estimé qu’elle violait une ordonnance de la ville interdisant les monuments financés par des fonds publics. Lee est une figure controversée aux États-Unis, et la décision de retirer la statue a suscité une vive réaction de la part de certains membres de la communauté.

La semaine dernière, la ville de Charlottesville, en Virginie, a décidé de retirer une statue du général confédéré d’un parc, la qualifiant de symbole de racisme. Ce retrait n’est intervenu qu’après une longue période de débat. La statue elle-même est un aspect controversé de l’histoire américaine qui fait l’objet de débats depuis des années, et il est arrivé que des statues de ce type soient retirées.

A Confederate monument that contributed to a violent rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, was removed from its stone plinth Saturday morning. The removal of General Robert E. Lee’s statue is the result of years of controversy, public anger and lawsuits.

In 2016, there was a need for suppression. The commemoration then became a rally for white supremacists and other racist groups, culminating in the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally where peaceful counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed.

The brigades also removed a statue of General Thomas Stonewall Jackson.

In an emergency meeting Saturday, the Charlottesville City Council also voted unanimously to immediately remove the statue honoring the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This sculpture represents Sacagawea, the Native American chief of Lewis and Clark, in a hunched position. According to the Daily Progress, the statue was donated to the city in 1919 by Paul Goodloe McIntyre, who had also donated the statues of Lee and Jackson.

Workers prepare to erect monuments to General Robert E. Lee on Saturday, October 10. July 2021, to be removed in Charlottesville, Virginia.

John C. Clarke/AP

A White House spokesman said Saturday that President Joe Biden welcomed the removal of the statues.

As President Biden said, there is a difference between remembering and commemorating history. The president believes monuments to Confederate leaders should be in museums, not public places, and welcomed the removal of the statues today, the spokesman said.

New trends

On Friday, city officials announced their intention to remove the statues of Lee and Jackson. They will be kept in a safe place until the City Council makes a final decision on what to do with them.

State law required the city to offer to pick up the statues from interested parties during the bidding period, which ended Thursday. There were 10 responses to this request.

The most recent removal of Lee’s monument began in 2016, thanks in part to a petition started by a black high school student, Ziana Bryant.

In an interview with CBSN on Saturday, Bryant said she was overwhelmed with pride and joy at seeing the statues removed.

This is only the first step. It’s a monumental first step, but it’s only the first step, Bryant said, adding that removing the statues must be accompanied by deeper systemic changes in areas such as law enforcement, affordable housing and education. She also argued that removing the monuments would not erase history, as some claim, but that putting them back would whitewash our history by honoring the Confederacy’s slave drivers.

We no longer provide a platform for white supremacy, Bryant said of the statue’s removal.

On Saturday, dozens of spectators lined the blocks of houses around the park where Lee’s statue stood to lift it off its pedestal. The police were visibly present and the roads were closed to traffic with barriers and heavy trucks.

Charlottesville Mayor Nikuya Walker spoke to reporters and onlookers as the crane approached the monument.

Walker said the removal of the statue is another small step to help Charlottesville, Virginia and America overcome the sin of being willing to destroy black people for economic gain.

There were at least some opponents of the withdrawal, including a man who yelled at the mayor after her speech, but there was no visible, organized presence of protesters.

Grace Segers contributed to this report.

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