Governor, Richmond Mayor urge people to stop removing statues for sake of public safety

Governor, Richmond Mayor urge people to stop removing statues for sake of public safety

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With a third statue now off its pedestal in Richmond, a plea from Governor Ralph Northam directly to protesters, let the legal process play out.

"I know these statues are causing a lot of pain but pulling them down is not worth risking someone's life," said Northam.

Shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday, Richmond Police were called to the scene and found the toppled statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

It’s the latest symbol of the Confederacy to fall in the former Confederate capital.

“I think they will continue to be taken down," said Richmond resident Sasha Waters. "People feel empowered right now.”

Those on Monument Avenue taking pictures Thursday have mixed feelings about what's happening right now.

While most agree they should come down, some worry about lawlessness at night, including one Richmond resident who didn’t want her identity disclosed.

“I’m very disturbed with the governor, the mayor and the city council," said the unidentified woman. "We have violence in our city, vandalism that’s unnecessary. It’s continuing to grow and grow and grow.”

In a series of tweets, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said, “Jefferson Davis was a racist & traitor who fled our city as his troops carried out orders to burn it to the ground. He never deserved to be up on that pedestal. July 1, we will begin the process the state requires to remove these monuments to the Old Richmond of a Lost Cause.”

He went on to say, “For the sake of public safety, I ask the community to allow us to legally contract to have the remaining ones removed professionally, to prevent any potential harm that could result from attempts to remove them without professional experience.”

Stoney also said, “I will push for us to waste no time on this and to make it happen as soon as possible. Richmond, we will finish the job of removing these antiquated symbols of racism and hate. Jefferson Davis is gone this morning, but it’s going to be a lot harder to dismantle the racism he and his peers embodied and institutionalized. That’s what this city will keep working toward."

A City Hall official said these incidents are all under investigation and if charges can be brought, they will be. As for why police aren’t intervening, the official said that it is about de-escalating potential violence with protesters to save lives.

“People are eager. They want to see change. They’re not going to wait,” said Waters.

Thursday morning, the city removed the Richmond Police Memorial Statue in Byrd Park.

Glenwood W. Burley, the chair of the Police Memorial Relocation Committee says the statue was vandalized four times in the past 10 days. It’s been moved for safety reasons and will cost thousands of dollars to restore.

“We’re heartbroken about it, but it’s the best judgment to get it out of here and protect it,” said Burley.

Meanwhile, City Hall officials say the fate of the downed statues is “to be determined,” adding they are currently being held at “undisclosed locations.”

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