A Black-owned construction business on Monday dismantled and removed the last public Confederate statue on display in Richmond, Virginia, the city that served as the capital of the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War.
The memorial to Ambrose Powell Hill, a Confederate general killed in battle days before the war ended in April 1865, was taken down as a small crowd of onlookers cheered.
Richmond began removing a dozen Confederate monuments in 2020 as part of a reckoning with the U.S. South's legacy of slavery. Statues of the Confederacy, a pro-slavery coalition of Southern states that fought to secede from the Union, were once protected by state law.
Defenders of the statues say they are tributes to the bravery of those who fought to defend the South and that their removals amount to erasing history.
Mayor Levar Stoney said Richmond must move do away with symbols that tell a false narrative of American history and that the city has become a more inclusive place without the monuments.
"This is something that commenced two years ago when we sought out to turn the page on our Confederate history and start writing a new chapter," he told reporter on Monday. "Today marks the last day of the Lost Cause."
Richmond is among many cities to remove symbols of the South's legacy of slavery in recent years. The campaign gained momentum after protests against police brutality and racism that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
A statue of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee was brought down in September 2021.
Hill's towering memorial, which stood for more than 130 years, was the last to come down, its removal delayed in part by a dispute over what to do with the general's remains, which had been buried beneath the statue in 1891.
A court order last week cleared workers to begin the removal, according to the Times-Dispatch. Hill's remains will be reinterred at a grave site in his birthplace in Culpeper, Virginia, the Times-Dispatch reported.
Richmond contracted Team Henry Enterprises -- a Black-owned construction business -- to dismantle the monument. The statue will eventually go to the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia, according to media reports.
(Reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York City; Editing by Alistair Bell)