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Charlottesville votes to remove 2 Confederate statues

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The Charlottesville City Council on Monday unanimously voted at a public hearing to remove Confederate statues from two separate parks, according to CBS affiliate WCAV-TV. The two statues depict Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.

The first attempt to remove the Lee statue at Court Square Park prompted the deadly “Unite the Right” rally, organized in part by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, in August 2017. Protesters and rally participants clashed and a man drove his car into the crowd, fatally striking a woman and injuring dozens more. The man, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, was sentenced to life plus 419 years in prison.

About 55 people took part in Monday night’s public hearing before the Charlottesville City Council took a vote, officials told WCAV. Opinions varied throughout the night.

“The statues need to go, but we need to remember that the work isn’t completed at that moment,” said Mayor Nikuyah Walker, according to WCAV.

Philip Hamilton, a Republican candidate running for the 57th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, said he believes statues should go up rather than come down, WCAV reported.

“Instead of destroying our history, why don’t we add to our history,” he said. “Let’s add context. Let’s add monuments dedicated to the Union.”

The Virginia Supreme Court in April overturned a district court ruling that the city’s statues were protected by state law, a decision that came after the 2017 rally. In 2020, Virginia gave localities the green light to remove or relocate their statues, per WCAV, so long as certain rules are followed. One of the rules stipulated that a public hearing must be held before the monuments are removed. 

WCAV said questions still remain as to what to do with the two bronze statues.

“It’s crystal clear to me that the statues need to come down in some fashion. I have not yet solidified in my mind what ought to come thereafter,” Councilor Lloyd Snook said at Monday’s hearing, per WCAV.

The decision to remove the statues kicked off a 30-day period during which the city council must offer the statues to any “museum, historical society, government, or military battlefield” that wants them, per state law. After that time period, the council will take into account any other offers before a final decision is made. If an agreement has yet to be reached, the City Manager will determine the next step.

Charlottesville’s Jackson statue was erected in 1921 and the Lee statue in 1924, according to the Associated Press.

In this file photo dated Tuesday, June 2, 2020, a large group of protesters gather around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue near downtown Richmond, Virginia.

Steve Helber / AP

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