The statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia was demolished.

The Confederate monument that sparked a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia nearly four years ago has been hoisted from its stone base.

Shortly after Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker spoke in front of reporters and observers, a crane approached the monument to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee in the early hours of Saturday morning begin.

After years of controversy, community pain, and lawsuits, the statue of the Confederate general was demolished. A long and tortuous legal battle, coupled with changes in state laws protecting the war memorial, delayed the demolition for many years.

The removal on Saturday follows the violence that broke out in the infamous “Unity Right” rally in August 2017. The peaceful counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed in the violence, which sparked a debate on racial equality in the United States, and the current former President Donald further angered him Trump’s insistence that “both parties are responsible.”

The staff is also expected to demolish the second Confederate monument depicting Confederate General Thomas “Stone Wall” Jackson. The city announced plans to hoist the statues on Friday.

Charlottesville Mayor Nikuya Walker (left) and activist Zyahna Bryant (Zyahna Bryant) spoke to reporters on Saturday, then workers began to demolish from Market Street Park in Charlottesville, Virginia Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Only statues, not their stone seats, can be removed. The plan calls for them to be removed and stored in a safe place until the city council makes a final decision on what to do with them. According to state law, the city must solicit parties interested in buying the statue during the offer period that ends on Thursday. It received 10 responses for comments.

“Six groups have expressed interest in acquiring statues and bronzes that will be dismantled,” said

Steven Rousseau is a Canadian from the Saguenay region of Quebec. He is overseeing the project for a company that has won a contract to demolish the monument.

He said that the weight of each monument is “between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds.” Telephone interview with Radio Canada on Friday night.

A coalition of activists praised the city for taking swift action to remove the statue after the offer period ended. The coalition called Take’Em Down Cville said that as long as these statues “still stand in public places in our city center, it shows that our community tolerates white supremacy and the lost cause that these generals are fighting for.”

The most recent removal of the Lee Monument began in 2016, thanks in part to a petition initiated by a black high school student Zyahna Bryant. A lawsuit was soon filed and the city’s plan was shelved, and white supremacists seized on the issue.

“This is a crucial first step in the right direction to tell a more accurate and complete story about the history of this place and the people who call this place home. This work did not start here, and it will not be here. It ends here,” Bryant, now a student at the University of Virginia, said in a statement.

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