By SARAH RANKIN and DENISE LAVOIE
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that towered over Richmond, Virginia, for generations has been taken down, cut into pieces and hauled away. It happened as the former capital of the Confederacy erased the last of the Civil War figures that once defined its most prominent thoroughfare. Hundreds of onlookers erupted in cheers and song as the 21-foot-tall bronze figure was lifted off a pedestal and lowered to the ground. The removal was a major victory for civil rights activists. Their previous calls to dismantle the statues had been steadfastly rebuked by city and state officials alike.