Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce plans Thursday for the removal of an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's prominent Monument Avenue, a senior administration official told the AP. The governor will direct the statue to be moved off its massive pedestal and put into storage while his administration seeks input on a new location, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak before the governor’s announcement. The move comes amid turmoil across the nation and around the world over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving.
Floyd's death has sparked outrage over issues of racism and police brutality and prompted a new wave of Confederate memorial removals in which even some of their longtime defenders have decided to remove them. The Lee statue is one of five Confederate monuments along Monument Avenue, a prestigious residential street and National Historic Landmark district in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy. It has been the target of graffiti during protests in recent days over Floyd's death, including messages that say "end police brutality" and "stop white supremacy." It was not immediately clear when the statue would be removed. (Northam recently made news over a COVID-19 selfie.)