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the statue of General Lee, the main symbol of the slave past, unbolted in Virginia

The symbol is strong to hope to turn a dark page in history. After several years of tensions focused on the slavery past of the United States, the most important monument denounced as a racist symbol in the country was debunked Wednesday, September 8 in Virginia: the gigantic statue of General Lee, the former commander of the southerners.

Having sat enthroned over 130 years on its twelve-meter-high pedestal, the equestrian statue was gently lowered by a crane in Richmond, the former secessionist capital during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

Hundreds of people had gathered from a distance to attend the event. Some waved their fists, let out jokes or cheers when the imposing bronze piece, the work of French artist Antonin Mercié, was torn from its plinth.

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Main military leader of the Confederates, Robert Lee fought with the states of the South against those of the North, in particular to preserve slavery.

While many Confederate monuments across the country were recently disassembled on the sly, sometimes in the middle of the night, under pressure from the Black Lives Matter movement, the Democratic Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, wished to give it a national impact. to this unbolting.

Racist symbols

The monuments celebrating Robert Lee and the other great figures of the Southern States are today regarded as racist symbols by a good part of the Americans, others considering on the contrary that they are part of their historical heritage.

Governor Northam had announced his intention to remove the statue of the Confederate General in June 2020, ten days after the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, asphyxiated under the knee of a white policeman. The murder of this African-American sparked a worldwide movement denouncing racial discrimination and vigorously revived the debate on the country’s slavery past.

A judicial guerrilla war launched by supporters of keeping the statue in place delayed the dismantling, which was finally validated last week by a decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Richmond, located south of Washington, “Is no longer the capital of the confederation”, said the African-American mayor of Richmond, Levar Stoney.

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