Cville City Council Taking Up Resolution to Deal with Monuments

Posted: Updated: May 02, 2016 10:04 PM
Lee Park Statue Lee Park Statue

The Charlottesville City Council is expected to take up a resolution next week to address issues created by local Civil War monuments.

This all started with a call to remove a statue of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee from the city's Lee Park. The group that would be discussing all these issues would officially be called the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces.

Councilors will be looking into creating the BRC during a meeting on Monday, April 18.

Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy has called for the removal of Lee's statue, which it ignited a debate and firestorm of opinion..

In the wake of Bellamy’s heated press conference, Mayor Mike Signer called for a BRC.

“It's to tell the full story of Charlottesville with regard to race and to change the narrative in Charlottesville, on those questions through our public spaces,” said Signer.

This isn't the first Blue Ribbon Commission in Charlottesville: In 2013, the city created one on sustainable schools funding, which came up with a series of recommendations to implement.

“The idea of a Blue Ribbon Commission is that hey you bring in people who have served the city in the past, who understand government, and governing well and then you also bring in people with technical expertise,” said councilor Kathy Galvin.

The new commission would go beyond just statues.

“They'll look not only at the Confederate statues, but also other important components of town that celebrate aspects of race in our history,” the mayor said.

One of the ideas being circulated is a larger memorial for the slaves who were sold on an auction block in Charlottesville’s historic Court Square. Right now, all there is to remember them is a plaque on the sidewalk.

Other thoughts include finishing the African-American Daughters of Zion Cemetery, as well as designing a new memorial to a civil rights leader.

“The discussion is going to be whether you take an additive approach -  i.e. add more monuments, add more information - or some have argued for a subtractive approach; take the statues away,” said Galvin.

There will be a public hearing at the end of Monday’s 7 p.m. city council meeting where anyone can come and voice their opinions.

Mayor Signer is hopeful that by the end of the meeting, the Charlottesville City Council would approve a staff work session to discuss administrative issues with officially starting the blue ribbon commission.

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