A Virginia statue that stood as a Confederate sentinel for 111 years outside a Charlottesville courthouse is gone. Crews removed the statue known as Johnny Reb—which included a rifle, two cannons, and cannonballs—to cheers from a crowd that had assembled before dawn, WVIR reports. "Today we disarm our court's square and embrace another step toward making the internal promise of an equitable and inclusive Albemarle County a reality," a county official said. The statue was installed in the Jim Crow era, in 1909, with taxpayer money. During the civic debate last month, per CNN, a city council member described the message the statue sent to Black defendants who had to walk by Johnny Reb on their way to court: "This space is reserved for the Confederate cause. You will find no justice here."
The courthouse is a few blocks from where one person was killed and dozens were hurt at a white nationalists rally in 2017, per the New York Times. The removal of the statue, officially called "At Ready," was the first local effort in Virginia to complete the process mandated this year by the state legislature, which included a public hearing and an agreement with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation. The community has decided "to redefine this place," the county official said Saturday, "as our predecessors did." A woman at the removal, which was livestreamed, explained why she worked to have the Confederate statue taken away. "I know my history. I know what those statues meant to my history," she said, "so that's why I got involved to try to get rid of the staple that tried to keep us down." (Read more Confederate statues stories.)