Chaos ensues as crews remove A.P. Hill’s remains in Richmond

Crews used tarps to cover the area as A.P. Hill's remains were uncovered.
Crews used tarps to cover the area as A.P. Hill's remains were uncovered.(WWBT)
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 12:37 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Crews hit the vault that held the remains of A.P. Hill on Tuesday morning, but the day was overshadowed by intense arguing among onlookers.

Crews started removing the remains around noon. Shortly after, intense discourse began between those behind the caution tape.

Many of those standing and watching were wearing jackets with Confederate flags, which upset many in attendance celebrating the statue’s removal.

“I just asked him a simple question. I asked him, ‘What does that flag represent to you?’ because to my people, it represents a lot of hate and brutality, and pain,” Devin Curtis, one of the men engaging in argument, said.

As Curtis continued asking questions and demanding answers, many people became upset and believed he was disrespectful toward the process.

“Some people couldn’t take it. They didn’t like the fact that I started speaking facts, and they approached me in a more aggressive way,” Curtis said.

At one point, the closest collateral descendant of A.P. Hill, John Hill, climbed out of the gravesite. He yelled in anger at those disturbing the process.

NBC12 spoke to John Hill Monday, who said it was an emotional and devastating process for his family. On Tuesday, following the heated exchange, he tweeted, “I was exhuming my ancestor’s remains. And they wouldn’t stop screaming the entire time. It was a very personal moment removing his remains, and they were completely out of hand.”

“I wasn’t expecting that. Honestly, it came on really, really fast, and I didn’t know what to expect,” one witness, Jim Gamble, said. “There was a lot of adrenaline rushing on both sides. I thought that it was out of place, honestly, for what was actually going on at the moment. It didn’t need to happen the way it did.”

Gamble thinks the statues should’ve stayed, and the funds allocated to the removal should’ve gone to another cause.

“We still have a lot of serious problems in the city of Richmond that haven’t been addressed, but we can spend all this money to remove these statues and not allocate funds to the correct areas,” he said.

Police remained on the scene and were forced to separate some people. Some officers even showed up in full military gear with rifles.

After about an hour of fiery back and forth, things fizzled out.

“One of the guys wearing the confederate flag was crying. I feel like I touched his heart more than I touched anybody else’s heart,” Curtis said. “As long as I could reach one person, that’s my main goal.”

The intersection of Laburnum and Hermitage road, where the A.P. Hill monument once stood, remains closed.

It will be closed off to traffic through Wednesday, Dec. 14, when crews pave over the spot.

This is a developing story and will be updated.