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Virginia city to remove slave auction block this month

The City of Fredericksburg has removed the slave auction block on Friday, June 5, 2020.
The City of Fredericksburg has removed the slave auction block on Friday, June 5, 2020. (City of Fredericksburg)

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – A 176-year-old slave auction block in a Virginia city is set to be removed and relocated to a history museum this month.

Fredericksburg city employees met Wednesday to discuss plans for the block's relocation after it was delayed for months by lawsuits and the coronavirus pandemic, The Free Lance-Star reported.

Officials did not give an exact date for when the block would be removed.

A local chapter of the NAACP called for the stone's removal in 2017, saying it was a relic of "a time of hatred and degradation" that was allowed to be displayed at a downtown street corner.

In 2019, the City Council voted in favor of its removal and relocation to the Fredericksburg Area Museum, and a judge upheld that decision in February after two businesses near the auction block sued to stop the relocation.

The process was held up after one of the businesses, a commercial building owner, asked the Virginia Supreme Court to bar the removal while her decision was being appealed, the newspaper said.

The museum now plans to display the weathered, knee-high stone in an exhibit chronicling the "movement from slavery to accomplishments by the local African American community," the Free Lance-Star said. The staff also plans to feature in the exhibit local protests over the death of George Floyd i n Minneapolis, according to the museum's president and CEO.

The stone was sprayed with graffiti twice during the local demonstrations, the newspaper said. The protests were part of a nationwide movement that were sparked by the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck as he pleaded for air.