Crews in Richmond, Va., removed the city’s last publicly owned Confederate memorial on Monday, completing a process initiated in 2020 to take down statues that critics say glorify the Confederacy.
Workers operating cranes lifted up a statue of A.P. Hill — a Confederate general in the Northern Virginia army who was a trusted associate of Gen. Robert E. Lee — and placed it on a flatbed truck.
The statue will now head to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Hill’s memorial had towered over a busy intersection in the city near a school for more than 130 years.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia applauded the statue’s removal.
“Let’s not forget: Removing symbols of racism is only one of the first steps to dismantling racist systems,” the organization tweeted.
The push to remove the statue had been delayed by a legal fight over who was its rightful owner.
Four indirect descendants of Hill, who was killed in the final days of the Civil War, had claimed ownership of the statue because it was also a neglected cemetery site containing the remains of the general in a plinth under the memorial. They wished to move the statue to a battlefield site.
But a Richmond Circuit Court judge ultimately ruled in favor of the city. And last week, the judge rejected a final effort from the descendants to halt the city’s plans to remove the statue.
Hill’s remains will be moved to a cemetery in Culpeper, Va., a decision agreed upon by both the city and his descendants.
The city of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, launched an effort to remove Confederate statues in 2020 after the death of George Floyd in police custody, which prompted a nationwide reckoning on systemic racism and racial inequality.
In 2020, a statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson came down from Monument Avenue. Last year, Richmond removed a famous memorial of Lee. A pedestal remained at the Lee site until January of this year.
Richmond has spent at least $1.8 million so far removing the Confederate statues, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
As part of the new movement that began in 2020, Confederate statues and memorials have been removed across the country. About 723 Confederate monuments remain in the U.S. and its territories, according to a February estimate from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.