The last Confederate monument owned by the Virginia’s capital city Richmond has been removed, along with the remains of the U.S. Civil War General, A.P. Hill, to whom the statue was dedicated.
With yellow straps under its shoulders and a rope around its neck, the statue of Hill was lifted off its base Monday, closing a chapter in the fight to remove monuments to the Confederacy that to many Richmond residents symbolized a legacy of racism. The action was part of a global reckoning with monuments linked to racist or colonial histories that gained traction after the killing George Floyd in 2020.
According to the Associated Press, the statue came down in mere minutes before it was laid on a flatbed truck lined with tires, but the path to its removal was a long one. Hill’s remains were buried beneath the monument and four of his indirect descendants had filed a lawsuit to block the removal.
Removing the base proved to be a more delicate task as records didn’t indicate exactly where Hill’s remains were buried. The large stones that made up the base were taken down gently and numbered, in case they were ever reassembled.
Hill’s remains — a skull, bits of cloth, and a few bones — were eventually found under a mound of earth near the monument’s foundation, according to the Washington Post. A small group comprising members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), and one of Hill’s descendent, John Hill, joined the crowd watching workers remove Hill’s remains.
The fate of Confederate monuments has been a flashpoint for debate since cities in the U.S. began purging them from public view. The decision of the city council of Charlottesville, Virginia, to remove a prominent statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville is credited with inciting the infamous white supremacist Unite the Right rally in 2017.
The atmosphere was tense at the removal of Hill’s remains and monument but no violence erupted. The Post reported that a Richmond resident, Devin Curtis, approached the Sons of Confederate Veterans to ask why they chose to wear Confederate battle flags on their leather vests. When the heated discussion reached a boiling point at least six police officers stepped in to diffuse the situation.
Richmond, which served as the capital of the Confederacy for a majority of the Civil War, plans to donate the monument to the local Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia. Hill’s remains are set to be reburied in his birthplace, the town of Culpeper, Virginia.