RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the immediate removal of multiple monuments throughout the city of Richmond Wednesday.
Many new laws took effect across the commonwealth July 1, including one that gives localities the power to remove or keep their monuments.
Previously, it was said that the earliest the statues could come down is in September, but Stoney argues they can come down now under a state of emergency for safety issues and put in storage until the official legal process plays out with the General Assembly.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, and protestors attempt to take down Confederate statues themselves, or confront others who are doing so, the risk grows for serious illness, injury, or death,” noted the mayor. “We have an urgent need to protect the public.”
The Stonewall Jackson statue - which was erected on Oct. 11, 1919 - was removed from its pedestal around 4:40 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, surrounded by chanting crowds who were getting soaked by storms moved through the area.
Governor Ralph Northam tweeted in response to the statue officially being removed.
The mayor also said that the immediate removal of the statues will expedite the healing process for the city - the former capital of the Confederacy “constantly grappling with that legacy.”
Earlier in the day, Mayor Stoney introduced a resolution during a Richmond City Council meeting to immediately remove the remaining Confederate statues along Monument Avenue.
“Madame President, it is time,” said Stoney during the virtual meeting. “Time to put an end to the lost cause. Replace the racist symbols of oppression and inequality.”
The resolution had majority support from Richmond’s city council, however, based on the rules of the meeting, council members were not allowed to vote on it Wednesday.
“I will be working with council over the coming weeks to outline an inclusive public process to which, we as a community, can determine the ultimate fate of these statues,” said Stoney.
The statue will be stored until city council decides what to do with it.
Stoney says the estimated cost for statue removal is $1.8 million. The funds are expected to come from the DPW budget and will likely be reimbursed by private fundraising efforts.
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