It wasn’t easy for a black man hired to reverse a Confederate legacy
Mr Henry called the investigation “ridiculous” and added: “There was nothing shameful going on.” Asked to comment on the dispute Ms Gray, who lost Mr. Stoney at the 2020 Richmond mayoral electionAll he said was that the move work “should have cost a lot less than it did”.
With the first removal scheduled for July 1, 2020, security emerged as an unresolved issue. The City Attorney felt that the Mayor had no real authority to expedite the removal of the monuments under emergency protocols, and the Richmond Police Department decided not to attend, fearing they could be subpoenaed for illegal activity.
Another option was to contact the sheriff’s department for help. But the city’s sheriff, Antionette V. Irving, wasn’t sure it was wise to get involved, Mr. Henry and city officials recalled. Mr. Henry and Sheriff Irving attended the same church. So at one point Mr. Henry took a selfie with the sheriff and sent it to their pastor, Dr. Lance Watson of Saint Paul’s Baptist Church, hoping the pastor could nudge the sheriff.
Sheriff Irving said that due to public safety concerns, she agreed to seat deputies on the afternoon of the first parade, when Mr. Henry and his team began dismantling a monument to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Since 1919 it had stood on Monument Avenue, a thoroughfare peppered with homages to Confederate leaders.
As much as the city had sought haste, the statue removal is by no means the same as demolition work. Even monuments that have been devalued as symbols are often dismantled with great care. In the case of the Jackson statue, Team Henry initially couldn’t find the screws they had to cut to loosen it from its base.
But once all the preparations were in place, the scene “played out like a movie,” said Mr. Henry. In the pouring rain, as a church bell — which had nearly melted into Confederate weapons during the Civil War — chimed in the background, a crane sent the Jackson statue into the air. Hundreds of people erupted in cheers – and tears.