Majority of Richmond City Council supports removing Confederate monuments
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said he would introduce an ordinance to have all the Confederate monuments on city land along Monument Avenue removed, a majority of council members said they would support the effort.
After action by the General Assembly, the city now has the power to decide what will happen to the monuments on city land. Those monuments include those honoring Confederate naval commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, generals Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The Robert E. Lee monument is owned by the state, and Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that the monument would be removed.
Councilman Mike Jones is also co-sponsoring the ordinance that would remove all the statues. It is also not the first time he submitted a request to have them removed.
"On the death of Heather Heyer, I submitted a request to take down the monuments but my colleagues on city council chose not to advance the papers,” Mike Jones said.
Councilwoman Kim Gray released the following statement in part saying, "I will support removal of these statues as long as a thoughtful and deliberative process is instituted to evaluate the expenses of removal and no funds are spent that would take resources away from critical public education and infrastructure needs.”
Third District Representative Chris Hilbert said he will be joining Stoney as a co-patron of the ordinance to remove the monuments.
“We cannot and should not forget the lessons of racial injustice of 400 years of slavery and its legacy. These statues are a part of our ugly past but they should not be part of our future,” Hilbert said.
Councilwoman Reva Trammell released the following statement:
“I want peace for our City. While many citizens support putting the Confederate statues in a museum, some oppose it. After giving this much thought, I will vote to take them down. I feel it is the right thing to do.I never thought I would live to see the kind of damage and destruction that has been inflicted on Richmond, and we need to end this now. We need to start rebuilding our city. I am confident that Richmond will come back better and stronger than ever, and I am committed to making this happen.”
Fourth District Representative Kristen Larson said after hearing from constituents and careful consideration, she will support the monuments being removed.
First District Councilman Andreas Addison said “while the removal of these statues does not erase the systemic racism that remains in this country, these symbols have become idols of division. Now is the time to bring Richmond together.”
Fifth District’s Stephanie Lynch also said she will be adding herself as a co-patron to this “long-overdue effort.”
Council President Cynthia Newbille also said she will support the removal of the monuments.
NBC12 has reached out to Councilwoman Ellen Robertson and is waiting to hear back.
The city won’t be able to take action until July 1 at the earliest. The council would have to hold a public hearing and after that, it could take another 30 days to follow other procedures, such as receiving bids from museums or other groups that may want to take the monuments away from the city’s hands.
Down the road at the Lee Monument, there is an effort to have it replaced with a statue of the Loving couple, who was one of the first interracial couples to be recognized in Virginia. The state owns that monument, so that process would move forward differently than the process to remove the other Confederate monuments in Richmond.
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