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Lee statue to be cut apart during removal, reassembled

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 7:56 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -The state has unveiled its plan to remove the Robert E. Lee monument if the court will allow it.

The plan, which was recently approved by a review board, would be to cut the 13-ton monument into three pieces and reassembled elsewhere. The statue has to be taken apart because it is too tall to go under any bridges.

The statue would first be lowered to the ground by a crane where it could then be partially disassembled before being transported to an undisclosed storage location outside city limits.

According to Conservator B.R. Howard Conservation, the monument would be cut “along original casting joints or along edges of cast elements or sculpted folds. Areas to be cut will be selected with the intent to cause minimal damage to the bronze casting and visual disruption in the event it is reassembled and restored at a future date.”

The statue was originally nine separate castings before it was constructed at the site and then lifted up on top of the pedestal.

The three sections that it would be cut into include, the cast base and legs of the horse, the body and head of the horse and the figure from the waist up.

Right now, the removal of the Lee statue has been put on hold at least temporarily since William Gregory filed for an emergency injunction to prevent the removal, which Gov. Ralph Northam ordered on June 4.

The lawsuit claims that in attempting to remove the statue and letting it be vandalized, they “are exceeding their legal authority, violating their obligations to enforce the law, and willfully violating binding covenants in the deed conveying the statue, pedestal, and the land on which they sit to the Commonwealth.”

Gregory is the great-grandson of the original deed holders for the monument. His attorney argues the entire case is over a contract between Gregory’s ancestors and the state to keep the land and monument in perpetuity. The statue has stood in a prominent spot along Monument Avenue since 1890.

Another hearing on the removal of the statue is scheduled for July 23.

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