Robert E. Lee's descendants okay the removal of his statues

Robert E. Lee statue.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee became the spark for the violent weekend protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, rallying opposition from the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacist and nationalist groups. Now Lee's direct descendants have spoken out to condemn any who use their ancestor's name as something to "hide behind," Newsweek reports.

Of the Charlottesville demonstrations, Lee's great-great-grandson, Robert E. Lee V, said: "We don't believe in that whatsoever … Our belief is that General Lee would not tolerate that sort of behavior either. His first thing to do after the Civil War was to bring the Union back together, so we could become a more unified country."

The Lee descendant added that he believes the statue of his great-great-grandfather could be moved to a museum instead, in order to give it the "proper historical context." "We look at the institution of slavery, and it's absolutely horrendous. Back then, times were just extremely different," said Lee, adding: "If you want to put statues of General Lee or other Confederate people in museums, that makes good sense."

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Karen Finney, the "biracial daughter of Jim Finney, a black civil rights lawyer descended from enslaved Virginians, and Mildred Lee, a white social worker and the great-great-great-great niece of [Lee]," also weighed in at The Washington Post, writing that Lee is "my ancestor, and as far as I'm concerned, his statues can't come down soon enough."

Baltimore became the most recent city to remove a statue of the Confederate general in the dark of night between Tuesday and Wednesday.

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