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Rally in Richmond for local control over Confederate monuments

virginia general assembly
Photo Credit: traveler1116/iStock Photo

Monumental Justice will rally at the State Capitol on Jan. 8 to push for legislation to give cities and counties local control over the fate of Confederate statues.

“People in communities all over Virginia want the right to decide how their public spaces reflect their community values,” said Monumental Justice Virginia member Jalane Schmidt, a University of Virginia religious studies professor and local public historian. “Monuments to the Lose Cause of the Confederacy don’t reflect those values.”

Legislation is being introduced in both the House of Delegates (co-sponsored by Rep. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk and Rep. Sally Hudson, D-Charlottesville) and the Senate (sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath) to address the local-control issue.

The matter came to a head in 2017 when Charlottesville City Council voted to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from one of its downtown parks, but was prevented from acting on the vote by an injunction in a lawsuit filed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Monument Fund, and descendants of the statue’s donor and sculptor.

A national gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville that summer to celebrate and “defend” statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson led to three deaths and dozens of injuries.

The new legislation would ensure that Charlottesville and communities around the state can make their own local decisions about Confederate monuments.

“These statues were erected in the 1920s, many decades after the Civil War, by white city leaders hoping to intimidate and disenfranchise their African American neighbors,” said former Charlottesville Vice Mayor Kristin Szakos. “They memorialize the Confederate dedication to slavery and white supremacy, and communities should not be forced to hold that cause up for veneration in these monuments.”

Local control over Confederate monuments has been called for by several Virginia cities and counties, including Charlottesville and Albemarle County, as well as by Virginia First Cities, a coalition of Virginia’s historic cities, and other statewide groups.

Monumental Justice is a statewide movement of Virginians who believe that local communities should be able to make local decisions about the Confederate statues in their public spaces.

The local affiliate, Take ’Em Down Cville, is made up of Charlottesville and Albemarle County residents who believe that the statues honoring the Confederate Lost Cause are really monuments to the cause of white supremacy and have no place in the community’s public spaces.

augusta free press
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