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Fencing installed around Lee statue in Richmond

FILE - In this July 31, 2017, file photo, the sun sets behind the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. In a state where Confederate monuments have stood for more than a century and have recently become a flashpoint in the national debate over racial injustice, Virginians remain about evenly divided on whether the statues should stay or go, according to a new poll. The poll conducted this month by Hampton University and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 46% support removal of Confederate statues and 42% oppose removal. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
FILE - In this July 31, 2017, file photo, the sun sets behind the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. In a state where Confederate monuments have stood for more than a century and have recently become a flashpoint in the national debate over racial injustice, Virginians remain about evenly divided on whether the statues should stay or go, according to a new poll. The poll conducted this month by Hampton University and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 46% support removal of Confederate statues and 42% oppose removal. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

RICHMOND, Va. – A state agency announced Monday that it was installing fencing around an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond that Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration has been fighting in court to remove.

The Department of General Services said in a news release that the fencing was intended to ensure the safety of visitors and workers as part of the plan to prepare the site for the eventual removal of the statue, should a court clear the way.

“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,” the news release said.

A group of Richmond residents sued over Northam’s proposal to remove the statue. With the case now before the Supreme Court of Virginia, an injunction is in place keeping the statue in place while the case plays out.

The Lee statue is among the largest Confederate tributes in the United States. Northam announced plans to take down the behemoth in June after the death of George Floyd.