Museum to Melt Down Lee Statue That Inspired “Unite the Right” Violence in 2017

A statue of Accomplice Basic Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, can be melted down and became a public artwork exhibit, 4 years after white supremacists stormed the town in a rally that resulted within the killing of Heather Heyer, an anti-racist counterprotestor.

A number of bids for the statue took place after the city removed it in July. This week, the town council finally voted 4-0 to hand over the monument to the only local group that positioned a bid: the Jefferson College African American Heritage Heart, a museum whose mission “is to honor and protect the wealthy heritage and legacy of the African American group” in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The undertaking, titled “Swords Into Plowshares,” will search public enter from Charlottesville residents to find out what the artwork piece ought to appear to be. However finally, the undertaking will purpose to “enable Charlottesville to cope with its racist previous,” said museum executive director Andrea Douglas, chatting with The Washington Submit.

“It truly is about taking one thing that had been dangerous and remodeling it into one thing that’s consultant of the town’s values right this moment,” Douglas mentioned.

“What are you able to generate out of trauma, so you find yourself with one thing that’s reflective of our up to date second?” she added.

The Lee statue turned a subject of nationwide debate after proposals to take away it led to neo-Nazis and white supremacists from throughout the nation descending upon Charlottesville in August 2017. Individuals of the “Unite the Proper” rally started attacking counterprotesters, ultimately ensuing within the homicide of anti-racist activist Heather Heyer.

After years of debate and litigation, the Virginia Supreme Court docket dominated final spring that the town had the fitting to take away the statue, despite claims made by descendents of the household that when owned the land the place the monument stood. The city removed the Lee statue together with one honoring one other Accomplice normal, Stonewall Jackson, this previous summer season.

Takyah Thompson, an activist who helped topple a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, after the “Unite the Proper” violence erupted in Charlottesville, mentioned that eradicating monuments depicting enslavers and colonizers is a vital step — even when it doesn’t handle the fabric situations ensuing from ongoing institutional racism within the U.S.

“Making a world the place cultural racism just isn’t okay is a vital first step to ripping down extra structural types of racism,” mentioned Thompson, chatting with Truthout in October 2017. “It’s an act of the oppressed reclaiming their company. So regardless that it was only a statue and folks have made the criticism of ‘Oh properly, let me know if you tear down a jail,’ properly clearly, that’s the following step. That may be the tip objective, nevertheless it’s necessary for oppressed individuals to have these small victories within the lengthy highway to liberating themselves.”