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The statue of Robert E. Lee is lowered from its pedestal on Sept. 8 in Richmond, Virginia. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Virginia took down Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue on Wednesday, days after the state's Supreme Court paved the way for its removal.

Why it matters: It's the latest Confederate monument to come down following the racial justice protests that erupted after the murder of George Floyd last year. It comes two months after a Lee statue was removed in Charlottesville.

  • The 131-year-old statue is the state's "largest monument to the Confederate insurrection," Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement Monday. "This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a commonwealth. "

Catch up quick: The Democratic governor said in June 2020 that he planned to have the statue taken down, but two lawsuits emerged — from five area residents and an heir to the family that initially granted the land for the monument — temporarily blocking its removal, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

  • Virginia's Supreme Court ruled last week that the lawsuits blocking its removal were contrary to policy established by Virginia's General Assembly, adding that the descendant "has no property right, related to the Lee Monument, to enforce against the Commonwealth."

The big picture: More than 300 Confederate symbols, including 170 monuments, have been removed since Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, fatally shot nine Black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, per the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

  • Calls for the removal of Confederate symbols intensified following the murder of Floyd and other police killings last year.
  • More than 1,895 Confederate symbols, including over 690 monuments, however, were still publicly present as of June, according to the SPLC.

Go deeper: Floyd's death set historic pace for Confederate removals

Go deeper

Dylann Roof asks appeals court to reconsider death sentence ruling

Dylann Roof appearing in court in July 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Grace Beahm-Pool/Getty Images

Dylann Roof, who was found guilty of murder for killing nine members of a Black church congregation in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, petitioned a full federal appeals court Wednesday to review his previously upheld death sentence.

The big picture: Roof's move comes after a three-judge panel rejected his first appeal in August. Asking the court to rehear his case is one of the few options he has to avoid the death sentence, along with petitioning the Supreme Court or seeking a presidential pardon.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.