RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There is a new twist in the growing controversy surrounding Confederate symbols. A local group is now calling for the Governor to remove Monument Avenue from the bike route for the upcoming UCI Road World Championships.
"The Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality" call the historic Monument Avenue a shrine to the Confederacy. They do not want it promoted on the world stage.
"Promote the race, but don't embarrass us in front of the world," said activist Phil Wilayto with The Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality. "Is this how we want to portray our city state and country? Change the route. Get it off this street."
The Road World Championship is a global sporting event. It is covered by more than 500 media outlets from around the world, and is broadcast live to a global audience of more than 300 million people.
"Let's not promote these loser, traitorous cowards who fought to defend a system of slavery," said Wilayto. "That's wrong."
Governor Terry McAuliffe disagrees.
"That's part of our heritage. It's who we are as Virginians. We were the capital of the Confederacy," said Gov. McAuliffe.
The Governor says he will not recommend a route change, even as he calls for the Confederate Flag to be removed from Virginia license plates.
"Absolutely not. Keep the bike race the way it is," Gov. McAuliffe said. "Leave all the statues alone. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is removing something that so many people find offensive."
The UCI Road World Championships come to Richmond September 19-27, 2015.