RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond mayoral candidate Joe Morrissey held a press conference on Monument Avenue on Monday to call for removal of the Jefferson Davis statue.
Morrissey called for the removal of the 109-year-old statue, saying it is a "painful reminder" to everyone, especially to those of color. He also said Jefferson Davis was the "leader of slavery."
Standing beside his wife, Myrna, Morrissey says the Jefferson Davis statue isn't the type of symbol Richmond needs - adding that Davis is different than the other confederate era figures peering down on Monument Avenue. Davis was the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
"To glorify a general, who wore the cloth of Virginia, who fought on a Virginia battlefield, who was born in Virginia, is one thing. But to glorify a politician whose principle cause was the institution of slavery, is a whole other thing," said Morrissey.
Morrissey said he will follow through with the removal of the statue if he becomes Richmond's next mayor, but he said the other statues on Monument Ave. will not be affected.
The Virginia Flaggers called it "a publicity stunt designed to intentionally create division and tension where it does not exist."
Michael Lucas attended the announcement and agrees with the flaggers, saying, "it's political grandstanding, trying to gain a vote and create a problem. Making it worse, dividing us, we need to be brought together."
This announcement comes during the Virginia State Bar's investigation into Mr. Morrissey. It issued a subpoena, which NBC12 collected from Henrico Circuit Courts Monday. This subpoena orders Sensei Enterprises, a digital forensics company hired by Mr. Morrissey, to turn over any and all evidence, including text messages sent between Mr. Morrissey and his now-wife Myrna, back from when she was only 17 years old.
When asked about this investigation, his answer was short.
"Old news," said Morrissey. "Any other questions?"
One other question: could he legally take this down? Morrissey cites a Virginia judge who ruled state law does not protect statues built before 1998.
NBC12's legal expert questions whether Morrissey would actually be able to remove the statue.
Richmond Mayoral candidate Jack Berry sent this statement regarding Morrissey's announcement:
Candidate Bruce Tyler said:
Candidate Lawrence Williams said:
Other candidates for mayor have not replied to NBC12's request for comment.
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