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The FAA Has Temporarily Banned Drones Around The Robert E. Lee Statue In Richmond

Protesters climb on the base of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue on June 6, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia amid continued protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody. The statue is set to be taken down on Sept. 8, 2021.
Protesters climb on the base of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue on June 6, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia amid continued protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody. The statue is set to be taken down on Sept. 8, 2021.

The Federal Aviation Administration says drones will be temporarily banned near the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond, Va. during its removal this week.

The FAA, citing "Special Security Reasons," says the ban will cover a radius of 2-nautical-miles around the statue, as crews begin the work of removing it starting on Wednesday.

The ban, which went into effect just after midnight on Tuesday, will remain in place until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, once the statue is fully removed, according to the FAA.

News of the temporary ban comes as the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled unanimously last week that the Commonwealth could take down the statue of the confederate general.

In June 2020, just days after the death of George Floyd, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the decision to remove the Lee statue — as Floyd's death sparked protests over police brutality and racism across the United States.

After Floyd's death, the statue became the focal point of a protest movement across the Commonwealth.

"The Commonwealth has been preparing for this moment for many months," Northam said in a statement after the court's decision. "This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a Commonwealth."

Preparations for the removal will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday with crews installing protective fencing around the streets where the statue currently stands. The fencing will remain in place until the removal is complete, according to state officials.

Once the statue is down, state officials say it will be placed in "secure storage at a state-owned facility" until officials come to a decision about its future.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: September 8, 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that the Robert E. Lee statue was located on the grounds of the Virginia state capitol.