Sep 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

New capsule installed at base that held up Robert E. Lee statue

Workers remove the statue of Robert E. Lee at the Robert E. Lee Memorial during a removal September 8, 2021 in Richmond, Virginia.
Workers remove the statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Workers in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday installed a time capsule on current events in a pedestal that held a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee until its removal last week, AP first reported.

Why it matters: Civil rights advocates say such symbols pay deference to the U.S. history of slavery and racism. The capsule contains items related to anti-racism demonstrations that erupted after George Floyd's death in 2020, officials told AP.

Details: Among the items installed in the pedestal is a Black Lives Matter sticker and a photo of a Black ballerina "with her fist raised near the Lee statue during last summer's protests in Richmond," AP notes.

  • An old vial of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine was also included in the capsule.

The big picture: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was hit by several lawsuits after announcing in June 2020 plans to remove the 60-foot-tall monument.

  • The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled earlier this month that officials could remove the statue, which Northam noted was the state's "largest monument to the Confederate insurrection."
  • Officials had tried after the statue's removal to find a late-19th century time capsule they believe was buried in the pedestal, but this didn't materialize.
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