Richmond City Councilors cite public safety concerns over new push to remove Monument Ave. statues

Richmond City Councilors cite public safety concerns over new push to remove Monument Ave. statues

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As protesters in the City of Richmond take matters into their own hands, city councilors are concerned confederate statues are becoming a public safety issue.

"They're coming down. I mean I don't care. They are coming down," said councilor Mike Jones.

Thursday afternoon, council members with the governmental operations standing committee came together virtually to talk about removing Monument Avenue statues.

"We have to figure out and I agree a way to more swiftly address the removal of the statues," said Cynthia Newbille, Richmond City Council President.

A total of five confederate statues once peppered Monument Ave. Only four are under council control. Of those, only three still stand. Recently, protesters pulled down a statue of confederacy president Jefferson Davis. And on another night attempted to pull down a statue of J.E.B. Stuart.

"Our goal as a council I believe is to protect the safety and health and well being of our public and our property and certainly we run in danger of that," said councilor Stephanie Lynch.

A Virginia General Assembly law change, which goes into effect July 1, lays out the process for any locality to take down war memorials and monuments.

That law also leaves a 60-day waiting period before anything can come down.

"We are not able to do what's right for the protesters, what's right for the residents of the city because the monuments have taken over the message," said Jones.

The city’s legal team is taking another look at lawful options to try to remove the statues before July 1. But, a move like that could keep them up even longer.

"My concern is that any attempt to put together some of these types of arguments, and that's all they are, is probably the swiftest route to an injunction that I can think of," said Haskell Brown, City of Richmond Attorney.

Councilors present during the meeting supported sending a resolution to General Assembly members to ask for an expedited process on statue removal.

As for removal costs, “it will be a lot,” is what city hall officials are saying. Those financial implication details are still under review.

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