Zoe Strozewski – 1/6/2022
The same company that took down the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia, was hired to dismantle the city’s last major Confederate statue and the pedestals where other Civil War-linked monuments used to stand.
The monument of Confederate General A.P. Hill and his remains, which are buried beneath the statue, will be removed, according to procurement documents.
The city announced on Wednesday that Newport News-based Team Henry Enterprises bid $1.5 million on the project and was awarded the contract, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The upcoming removal of the final major Confederate statue stemmed from efforts that began in the summer of 2020, when the U.S. erupted in mass protests calling for racial justice after the killing of George Floyd. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney ordered their removal that summer and set the process in motion.
Last week, Northam and Stoney announced a tentative plan to transfer ownership of the dismantled monuments to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Under the proposal, the Black History Museum would then be able to work with The Valentine museum and local community members to decide the fate of the monuments.
Another company, Stratified Inc., said it could complete the work for $1 million. But as Richmond was preparing to award it the contract, the city found that the Washington-based company didn’t have a necessary state contractor’s license. A city official familiar with the process told the Times-Dispatch that Team Henry protested plans to award the contract to the other company. Stratified Inc. CEO Clive Diaz said Wednesday that he intended to get the license immediately, but lawyers he consulted told him that the city had the right to reject the bid without it.
In 2020, Richmond awarded a $1.8 million contract to a shell company associated with Team Henry to remove the city’s Confederate statues. Henry later said he formed the shell company for safety reasons, as contractors taking down Confederate monuments in other places had been threatened or subject to violence.
The Virginia State Police investigated the deal after former Councilwoman Kim Gray raised concerns that company owner Devon Henry had previously donated to the mayor’s election campaign and political action committee. A prosecutor didn’t find evidence of public corruption and ended the investigation last summer.
Richmond’s chief administrative officer, Lincoln Saunders, told the Times-Dispatch on Wednesday that state officials had suggested Henry for this last job after already engaging him to remove the Lee statue.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, Sons of Confederate Veterans and President Jefferson Davis Chapter, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 46, Issue No. 2, February 2022)