Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue removed from the US Capitol

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The Robert E Lee statue that has represented Virginia in the U.S. Capitol for 111 years has been removed after a state commission decided that Lee was not a fitting symbol for the state. Jack Mayer/Office of Governor of Virginia via AP Images
  • A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was removed from the US Capitol on Monday.
  • A Virginia state commission decided that Lee should no longer represent the commonwealth in the capitol, and a provision in the recently-passed National Defence Authorization Act allowed for it to be removed.
  • Military bases named after Confederate leaders can also be renamed under the provision.
  • A statue of civil rights leader Barbara Johns, who at 16 years old led a student strike for equal education at a Virginia high school, is set to replace Lee.
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Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue was removed from the US Capitol on Monday as part of a provision in the National Defence Authorization Act passed last week by Congress.

The move comes after a more concerted push over the summer, when nationwide Black Lives Matter protests put pressure on lawmakers to rid of the US government’s iconography honouring members of the Confederacy.

Lee led the pro-slavery separatist army in the Civil War after studying with his Union counterparts at West Point.

He represented Virginia in the US Capitol for 111 years, but an Old Dominion state commission decided in July that Lee should no longer retain that status.

Shortly after 4 a.m. on Monday, crews hooked the Lee statue up to a rig with chains so it could be lifted off its perch.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia posted a video of the removal later in the morning.

A statue of civil rights leader Barbara Johns is set to replace Lee. Johns led a student strike for equal education at age 16 in a Virginia high school, with the subsequent legal challenge later being merged into what became the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that led to the racial integration of schools.

The Virginia commission of historians, lawmakers and citizens arranged by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam picked Johns as the replacement last month, but funding still needs to be approved to seal the deal, according to the Washington Post.

The same provision of the NDAA that allowed for the Lee statue to be taken out of the Capitol will also open the doors for renaming military bases dedicated to Confederate leaders.

President Donald Trump has been consistently supportive of keeping the names in place, promising to veto the NDAA if it kept the provision. However, the bill gained veto-proof majorities in both chambers upon passage.

There are 10 prominent military bases named after military officials in the Confederacy, all of which are in former Confederate states:

  • Camp Beauregard in Louisiana
  • Fort Polk in Louisiana
  • Fort Benning in Georgia
  • Fort Gordon in Georgia
  • Fort Bragg in North Carolina
  • Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia
  • Fort Hood in Texas
  • Fort Lee in Virginia
  • Fort Pickett in Virginia
  • Fort Rucker in Alabama