Charlottesville: Confederate soldier statue removed

The statue had stood in front of the Albemarle County courthouse for 111 years

A statue of a Confederate soldier has been taken down in the US city of Charlottesville, Virginia, the scene of a far-right rally three years ago.

Crowds cheered as a crane removed the bronze figure, known as “At Ready”, early on Saturday.

There has been an increased focus on monuments connected to slavery in the wake of mass anti-racism protests in the US and abroad this year.

A number of statues have been removed as a result.

Memorials to the Confederacy, a group of southern states that fought in favour of slavery against the Union in the American Civil War of 1861-65, have been among those targeted.

But there has been opposition to the removal of such symbols, with President Trump saying earlier this year that he would “not even consider” renaming military bases named after Confederate generals.

The bronze statue was taken down from its plinth in front of the Albemarle County courthouse, where it had stood since 1909, early on Saturday.

People gathered nearby danced to music as the monument, along with a cannon, were removed.

Albemarle County voted to dismantle the statue in August, the first decision to be made under a new law for removing Civil War monuments in Virginia introduced earlier this year.

In 2017, Charlottesville became the site of the largest white nationalist rally in decades, following a plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee.

Avowed neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr was later sentenced to life in prison after driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others.

In June, Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam announced that another Lee statue would be removed, this time in the state capital of Richmond.

The decision came amid mass protests across the country following the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody.

However, a judge has since granted a temporary injunction to stop the statue’s removal.