Commission: Most want to keep Confederate monuments in Richmond...with caveats

Commission: Most want to keep Confederate monuments in Richmond...with caveats
Lee statue on Monument Avenue (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Monument Avenue Commission held another meeting Tuesday at the Library of Virginia, to get a better idea of what Richmonders want to do with the Confederate monuments.

Mayor Levar Stoney put the commission together to gather public input and make a recommendation based on what you want. The majority of people who have submitted an idea or opinion want to keep the monuments but with some caveats.

These submissions starting trickling in towards the end of the summer, but they started pouring in immediately after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. People who want to see the monuments torn down have gotten much louder since this disgusting August weekend, but so have people who support Richmond's monuments - actually, they've been even more vocal.

"For those who are Confederate heritage, truly Confederate heritage, to see people donning Nazi paraphernalia offended them, in addition to carrying their flag," Monument Avenue Commissioner Christy Coleman told NBC12.

The commission has more than 1200 submissions so far, and most of them are similar to Larry and his wife's opinion.

"We have a really nice treasure here in Richmond, and let's take ownership of our history and have a better tomorrow," Larry Terry said.

There was a good-sized group of people opposing the monuments at Tuesday night's meeting. Regardless of what side you are on, the commission feels Richmonders are the only opinions that matter here.

"I was interested to find out if the people carrying the signs, are they Richmond people? - and they are, which is great! They're here, they have an opinion to express, and I think that's good. It's a very complex topic," said Linda Terry.

One of those people was Laura McCann.

"You know, I never heard the word 'slavery' mentioned once, and that's really what these monuments are about, so I just feel like we're dancing around the issue," said McCann.

But it is illegal to tear them down. The city would have to change its charter, and the General Assembly would have to change state code. Plus, a lot of people have concerns about cost, and rightfully so. It's your money, but this isn't all on taxpayers.

VCUarts students at the MOB facility are using design skills to try to re-imagine Monument Avenue, and they're doing that with a federal grant. Meanwhile, the commission will compile more data and possibly add more meetings with small group discussions.

"Because you can have a dialogue, you can actually have a conversation with somebody. When you're in a large group, it becomes more about making a point instead of having a conversation," Coleman said.

All of the data collected in this will eventually be made public. The commission hopes to make its recommendation to the mayor by May.

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