People gather at the Robert E. Lee Monument to listen to speeches during the 5000 Man March, June 13th, 2020.

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“I’m from Richmond, Virginia, born and raised...I’ve been out here since the protests have started, right here at this monument. We just wanted to bring people together in a major way to spread love, to spread peace, and to begin organizing from here. To get people in the mindset of how do we really organize to create a community to build the changes that we’re looking for. You know, I had to explain to my little cousin, who’s seven years old, what this is. I had to explain to him what racism is…He asked me ‘Why does this man get a trophy?’ So we’re here to take back the narrative and to always expose the racism of this confederate capital” Montae Taylor, 5000 Man March co-organizer.

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"We're going to demand new police practices. And I want to say to the police chief, and to law enforcement leaders all around this nation; if you can't step up and right the wrongs, you are just as much a part of the problem as everybody else." Tavares Floyd, Richmond native and cousin of George Floyd speaks at the 5000 Man March, June 13th, 2020.

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Soon after the death of George Floyd, Richmonders renamed the Lee Monument and circle surrounding it 'Marcus-David Peters Circle'(MDPC) for Marcus, a Richmond school teacher who was killed by Richmond Police while suffering a mental health crisis at age 24.  

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A memorial to Tamir Rice, who was killed by Cleveland Division of Police Officer Timothy Loehmann in Cleveland on November 22nd, 2014.

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Erik Finger recounts the story of Breonna Taylor’s killing by police to grand-daughter Zenaya Finger at Marcus-David Peters Circle, June 22nd, 2020. Memorials to people that lost their lives to police violence were first installed around the base of the Lee Monument days after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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"People are tired of being censored, or tired of being muted...Well, how come I only can say what you want me to say? How come I can’t lash out and say, hey, fuck this shit. We need change. How come I can’t say it’s time for police brutality to end?...What part of that phrase says that you’re not American if you feel like you’re being discriminated against?...You know, and I hate to say it, but you may not like the messenger and you may not like how raw the message is... And I can say me personally, I was not one that understood the Black Lives Matter Movement, as a Black Man. I was one who who am a registered Republican, but always vote the issues...But to see this-yesterday when I came down here; this memorial brung me to tears." Richmonder John Scott poses for a portrait June 20th, 2020.

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A person sleeps on the pedestal of the Lee Monument, Summer 2020.

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Lakeisha James hugs a man who began crying after being antagonized by another man at Marcus-David Peters Circle, June 20th, 2020.

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Armed citizens would patrol MDPC in an effort to protect visitors in a space that was hostile toward police presence.

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Double exposure.

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“This isn’t just about a statue. This isn’t just about a history that you’ve read somewhere in a middle school textbook. This is about a family member who devastated an entire region, who enslaved people, who fought for the continued enslavement of those people, who sought no recompense after the war, except for that he wanted to be back together, because he thought that would be beneficial for his property and his land that he had salvaged...And I know the argument can be made that he was a man of his time, that he was someone who was just a just a bystander who ended up fighting for Virginia. But if you look at the history, that is not the case. If you look at the records, that is not the case.” Reverend Robert Wright Lee, IV, descendant of Robert E. Lee poses for a portrait at MDPC, July 5th, 2020.

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“The harm here, is to the people who have to be reminded of why those statues went up in the first place. They went up in the first place in order to try and rewrite history, and make people think the Civil War was fought over something else. In fact, the statue is of someone who led an armed insurrection against the United States of America, in order to enslave millions of Americans. And that is wrong. And that is not who we are as a commonwealth. And we should not have to hold that statue up in a place of prominence on public property, any longer.” Attorney General Mark Herring speaks to the media at the John Marshall Courts Building after a hearing on the case to remove the Lee Monument, July 2nd, 2020.

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A picture of Walter Wallace at MDPC during a vigil held the night after he was killed in Philadelphia, October 28th, 2020. "I wish we didn’t have to keep gathering for the loss of black life. The constant viral violence against black people is heinous, and it’s heavy. And, as a black woman, to come here, to reflect on how it feels to everyday see this violence in our own community and across the country, to see siblings getting kicked out of their homes, dying from a virus that overwhelmingly impacts us, to still have to go to work to try and keep food on the table, its heavy. So I’m not here to ask you for anything, but to stand here in solidarity with you. To know that I’m feeling that way also, to look at Walter’s picture, to know that we’ll be adding more pictures.” Alexis Rodgers, then-candidate for Mayor of the City of Richmond speaking at the vigil for Walter Wallace, October 28th, 2020.

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"I've been at the Robert E. Lee Statue for over 142 days straight, feeding the people, bringing the community together, and just making everybody smile. This is what a community is supposed to look like." Rashia Blackwell, (affectionately known as Bubbles), one of the founding members of 'The Kitchen' at Marcus-David Peters Circle on the evening that Joe Biden was declared winner of the 2020 Presidential Election. Bubbles worked alongside her husband Ray and other community members to provide free meals and other assistance on a daily basis to anyone that visited MDPC.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18th, 2021.

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“The Department of General Services today will install fencing around the Lee Monument grounds to ensure the safety of visitors and workers as part of DGS’s plan to prepare the site for the removal of the Lee statue. As we await the resolution of legal challenges that have delayed the statue’s removal, DGS wants to be prepared to act quickly upon a final determination. The fencing is not intended to be permanent.” Contractors install perimeter fencing around MDPC on January 25th, 2021. As of February, 2022, the fences remain up.

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Richmonders recreate on Monument Avenue, winter 2020.

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Lawrence West (second from left), founder of BLM RVA and steward of Marcus-David Peters Circle marches with supporters through downtown Richmond the day the Virginia Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee, June 8th, 2021.

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The visage of Marcus-David Peters projected onto the Lee Monument, Spring 2021.

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“So today marks the three year anniversary since my brother was murdered by a Richmond police officer while he was unarmed, undressed, experiencing a mental health crisis. And so, you know, we’re out here celebrating his life. We’re celebrating mental health awareness month. We have a lot of work to do as far as breaking stigmas behind mental health that prevent a lot of people from speaking about it and asking for help. We’re celebrating the many lives unjustly lost whether it was due to community violence or police violence... I had a conversation with somebody today that, you know, openly told me about their mental health struggles. But this is the reality, is every last one of us are a straw away from having a mental health crisis. You can get a call right now, that your house is gone, whether it was a disaster, or whether the bank has taken it over-And that’s enough to cause a person to have a mental health crisis. And the reality of it is, if we continue to allow the police to kill people, to brutalize people, or to throw them in jail, because that’s where a lot of people with mental illness are...If we continue to allow that to happen, then we are continuing to condone the lack of humanity. And that’s all we’ve been asking for. You know, my campaign, my grassroots actions; all we’re begging for, all we’re demanding is equity in humanity.” Princess Blanding, sister of Marcus-David Peters, then-candidate for Governor of Virginia, stands near signs put up in memory of people whose lives were lost due to police violence, May 15th, 2021.

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"Today is almost like Christmas Eve, the removal eve-of Robert E. Lee. I'm glad to be able to witness it for people like my mom and my grandmother and my great-grandmother who were affected by it, who couldn't walk on Monument, and their generation...I feel like it means one small step for mankind, and one giant step towards the end of white supremacy here in the home of the confederacy." Nika, a long-time visitor to MDPC stands in front of the Lee Monument the night before its removal, September 7th, 2021.

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The moment after the statue of Robert E. Lee atop his horse 'Traveller' was disconnected from the pedestal that supported it for over 131 years, September 8th, 2021.

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The statue of Robert E. Lee and his horse Traveller are driven off Monument Avenue to an undisclosed location after being removed from the monument pedestal, September 8th, 2021.

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The pedestal of the Lee Monument, the day after the statue of Robert E. Lee was removed. September 9th, 2021.

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"It's a new beginning I feel like. We've been out here fighting for BLM you know, for the cause. We was like a family...I met a lot of good people out here, a lot of good friends. As a Spanish guy, you know, they made a way for us to have a voice, too." Chris M., a long-time visitor to MDPC looks upon the rubble left after the pedestal's removal on December 22nd, 2021.

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Graffitied road barriers are the only remnants of the community's presence at MDPC before the perimeter fencing was installed in January 2021. As of June 2022 the fences remain in place, preventing the community from visiting the space. 

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