Charlottesville tears down Confederate statue outside courthouse

The Confederate statue "At Ready" stood outside the Albemarle County courthouse for 111 years

A major step was taken to abolish one of the divisive symbols of the Civil War as workers used a crane to hoist a Confederate statue and remove it from its pedestal early Saturday.

Members of a community still bearing the emotional scars from the racial violence of 2017 stood behind metal barricades and erupted in cheers as the bronze figure of a Confederate soldier, called “At Ready,” was taken down after standing outside the Albemarle County courthouse for 111 years.

According to the Washington Post, the crowd of onlookers — all wearing masks and many donning blue Union Civil War caps — celebrated the occasion by dancing to music broadcast by a local radio station. The volume of the music and the sounds of jubilation from the crowd muffled the beeping noises of work trucks that moved around the square.

A bronze statue of an unnamed Confederate soldier, titled “At Ready,” stands outside of the Albemarle County Courthouse on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, in Charlottesville, Va. (Erin Edgerton/The Daily Progress via AP)

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To many, the festive atmosphere was a repudiation of the deadly violence of the Unite the Right rally orchestrated three years ago by white supremacists.

“This is a magnificent moment,” said Don Gathers, a 61-year-old local community organizer. “Much of the racial tension, strife and protest we’re seeing across the country emanates from right here in Charlottesville. But now we’re moving the needle in a positive way.”

The “At Ready” monument was not the focal point of the 2017 rally that left counterprotester, Heather Heyer, dead. But it is a block away from the Robert E. Lee statue that the white supremacists claimed they were defending.

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Albemarle officials do not plan to totally obliterate the “At Ready” statue. Dismantled in sections, the statue will be sent to the Shenandoah Valley Battlegrounds Foundation for preservation.

Although the foundation’s plan for the statue is unclear, activists who fought to eliminate Confederate symbols from Charlottesville expressed disappointment that the statue would be erected again in another part of Virginia.

“We feel like it’s just basically toxic waste disposal in another community,” Jalane Schmidt, associate professor at the University of Virginia, said.

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