Nearly three weeks after George Floyd’s death by the knee of a white police officer, in the former capital of the Confederacy, a cluster of people sat huddled in a circle at the base of the towering statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia.
The group of about two-dozen adults had come together for a community meditation and racial healing circle, holding space in a place that—for 130 years—has served as a monument to white supremacy.
In the weeks since Floyd’s death, protestors had been remaking the monument’s image. The 40-foot-tall gray granite pedestal supporting the 12-ton bronze statue was beginning to disappear under colorful graffiti: hand-painted memorandums denouncing police and calling for the end of inequality and systemic racism.
Protest organizers had asked yoga therapist Ashley Williams, founder of Bare Soul Yoga, to lead a meditation at the monument for those who had been camped out at the protest site for days.
“That time was created to hold space for community healing—a moment to rest, reflect, and feel our experience,” Williams says. “Seeing the Robert E. Lee monument has been powerful … now with all this artwork covering it, people communing [around it] and reflecting on it—it’s both a symbol of love and hate existing in one.”