00:57 GMT20 October 2020
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    Hundreds of local residents gathered in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday to witness the removal of a monument to Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson after state officials cleared the way for its takedown.

    Crews arrived at the scene at around 1 p.m. local time with a large crane, an elevated work platform known as a cherry picker and a tractor trailer attached to a flatbed.

    Richmond Mayor Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the immediate removal of several monuments in the city on Wednesday.

    “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, and protestors attempt to take down Confederate statues themselves, or confront others who are doing so, the risk grows for serious illness, injury or death. We have an urgent need to protect the public,” Stoney said Wednesday, NBC12 reported.

    ​Protests have been taking place across the US since late May following the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Many protesters have tried to remove statues of Confederate figures, which subsequently resulted in US President Donald Trump’s move to sign an executive order to protect American monuments, memorials and statues.

    Last week, police pepper-sprayed US protesters outside of Washington, DC’s Lafayette Square Park for attempting to remove an Andrew Jackson statue. Jackson served as US president between 1829 and 1837 and owned at least 95 slaves at his Tennessee plantation. Four men have been charged with destruction of federal property for attempting to remove the statue, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.

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