State Watch

Charlottesville lawmakers vote to remove Confederate statues at center of deadly rally

Charlottesville lawmakers voted unanimously on Monday to remove two of the Confederate statutes that were at the center of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in 2017.

The Washington Post reported that the Charlottesville City Council agreed to remove statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, which were on display in public parks.

The local leaders approved the removal of the statues shortly after the 2017 white nationalist rally, where one counterprotester was hit by a car and killed. A number of city groups then filed a lawsuit against the city to preserve the monuments.

Later on in 2019, a Virginia state judge issued a permanent injunction that prohibited the statues from being moved.

Circuit Judge Richard Moore had ruled that state law prohibits moving war memorials, and that transporting the statues would be a violation of the law.

In April, however, the Virginia Supreme Court threw out the lawsuit, allowing Charlottesville, or any other community in the state, to decide for itself if the Confederate statues should remain, according to the Post.

The local leaders decided to hold a new vote, despite calling for the removal of the statues shortly after the rally, because no current member of the council was serving at the time of the first vote, the Post noted.

The council held a hearing on Monday night, where a number of speakers called for the statues to be removed before Aug. 11 and 12, which marks the anniversary of the 2017 rally, the Post reported. These individuals said the figures would be a public safety hazard because they remain a rallying point for right-wing extremists.

Some speakers at the hearing, however, defended the statues, claiming that the monuments add “context” to history, the newspaper noted.

The move by the city council came one day before a key hearing before the Supreme Court of Virginia over whether Richmond’s statue of Lee should be removed.

Several states previously opted to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol.

The House last year passed a bill to remove statues from the Capitol of people who served in the Confederacy or defended slavery, but the GOP-controlled Senate refused to take up the measure at the time.

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed back on efforts to “airbrush the Capitol” and “scrub out” Confederate statues, saying that the decision should be left up to states.

A number of southern states later removed Confederate statues from the U.S. CapitolIn December, a statue of Lee displayed in the Capitol was also removed.

Tags Charlottesville historic monument controversy Charlottesville, Virginia Confederate monuments Mitch McConnell

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