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Virginia removes segregationist’s statue from Capitol Square

July 7, 2021 GMT
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Workers secure the statue of Harry F. Byrd, Sr., former Virginia Governor and U. S. Senator, to a pallett after it was removed from the pedestal in Capitol Square in Richmond, Va. Wednesday, July 7, 2021. The General Assembly approved the removal during the last session. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
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Workers secure the statue of Harry F. Byrd, Sr., former Virginia Governor and U. S. Senator, to a pallett after it was removed from the pedestal in Capitol Square in Richmond, Va. Wednesday, July 7, 2021. The General Assembly approved the removal during the last session. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Workers removed a statue of Harry F. Byrd Sr., a former Virginia governor, U.S. senator and staunch segregationist, from the state’s Capitol Square on Wednesday morning.

A crane hoisted the larger-than-life statue off its pedestal and workers then strapped it to a truck to be hauled into storage until lawmakers determine its final disposition.

Byrd, a Democrat, ran the state’s most powerful political machine for decades until his death in 1966 and was considered the architect of the state’s racist “massive resistance” policy to public school integration.

Lawmakers voted to remove the statue earlier this year, a decision that came amid a yearslong movement in history-rich Virginia to rethink who is honored in the state’s public spaces.

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The statue erected in 1976 was located a stone’s throw from the Capitol in Richmond. A nearby plaque said the statue was dedicated in appreciation of Byrd’s “devotion throughout a long public career to governmental restraint and programs in the best interest of all the people of Virginia.”

Byrd’s son, the late Harry Byrd Jr., a Democrat-turned-independent who began his career as a segregationist, succeeded his father in the Senate, serving until 1983.