Charlottesville takes down Confederate statue at site of fatal 2017 protests

Workers in Charlottesville, Virginia, have started taking down a Confederate statue close to the scene of violent protests in 2017 that left a woman dead.

The Washington Post reported that a crowd of about 100 people cheered from behind metal barriers as workmen began dismantling the ‘At Ready’ statue which depicts a Confederate soldier.

Community organiser Don Gathers told the paper: “This is a magnificent moment.

“Much of the racial tension, strife and protest we’re seeing across the country emanates from right here in Charlottesville. But now we’re moving the needle in a positive way.”

Charlottesville was the scene of vicious clashes in August 2017 when white supremacists and neo-Nazis holding a Unite the Right rally faced off with counter-protesters.

Heather Heyer, one of the counter-protesters, was killed when a white supremacist deliberately crashed his car into a crowd of people. The driver was jailed for life.

The At Ready statue is close to another, of Confederate general Robert E Lee, which was the focus of the 2017 protests. Council members in Albermarle County voted to remove both – and one of another southern general, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson – although the future of the other two hangs in the balance while a legal bid to save them is considered.

Donald Trump, who has been an outspoken supporter of protecting the Confederate legacy in statues and the names of US military bases, controversially suggested after the 2017 clashes that there were “very fine people” on both sides.

His comments sparked a storm of outrage, with Joe Biden – later to become his Democratic challenger in this year’s election – saying: “With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.”

However, Mr Trump insisted he was only referring to those people trying to protect the Robert E Lee statue, and not the white supremacists who marched through the town chanting “Jews will not replace us” and other neo-Nazi slogans.

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