Confederate Monuments Covered in Charlottesville

Charlottesville city council member Wes Bellamy, left, walks with resident Aaliyah Jones, right past the covered statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation park in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. The move to cover the statues is intended to symbolize the city's mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Charlottesville city council member Wes Bellamy, left, walks with resident Aaliyah Jones, right past the covered statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation park in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. The move to cover the statues is intended to symbolize the city’s mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Workers in Charlottesville draped giant black covers over two statues of Confederate generals on Wednesday to symbolize the city’s mourning for a woman killed while protesting a white nationalist rally.

The work began around 1 p.m. in Emancipation Park, where a towering monument of Gen. Robert E. Lee on horseback stands. Workers gathered around the monument with a large black drape. Some stood in cherry-pickers and others used ropes and poles to cover the statue as onlookers took photos and video. Some of the crowd cheered as the cover was put in place.

“It’s great. It’s a good start,” said Jamie Dyer, who spoke a short time later from nearby Justice Park, where workers covered a statue of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. “They do have to go, but it is a start, and I’m glad the city has finally recognized it has to happen on some level.”

Later Wednesday, local media reported that a man with a gun strapped to his leg approached the Lee statue and began cutting the tarp with a knife. Police asked him to stop, and he complied. He addressed reporters and bystanders, saying he thought it was illegal under state law to cover a war memorial and that doing so amounted to erasing history.