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Charlottesville City Council Holds Public Hearing on Lee Park Statue

Posted: Updated: Apr 19, 2016 12:03 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

It’s now up to Charlottesville City Council to decide what to do about local monuments to leaders of the Confederate Army.

Councilors will hold a work session next week to go over logistics for forming a blue ribbon commission on race and history. Members of the commission would be tasked with researching options for what to do with the monuments to generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, as well as other statues, roads, and parks named after people who sided with the Confederacy.

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

Charlottesville City Council hosted a public hearing Monday night, and heard from people on both sides of the debate. About 40 people signed up to share their thoughts on the issue.

Some say the statue of General Lee in Lee Park represents racism and white supremacy. Others argue the memorial is part of our history, and they plan to sue if the city tries to take it down.

“If you think about a certain set of people, they will respect and honor Hitler and what he did. He really sacrificed himself and made some tough decisions, but if we were in a society where we put up a statue of Hitler, how do you think the Jewish community would react to it?” Quinton Harrell said.

“We need to recognize that in 2016, statues aren't always here to celebrate what they meant at the time they were erected, but they can be here to erect how far we've come. See, the criticism of Robert E Lee is really a criticism of Virginia at that time,” said Elliott Harding with Friends of C’ville Monuments.

The blue ribbon commission will be able to consider many different options, including removing the statues. The city could also add things to build context around them, as well as place additional memorials nearby.

The Charlottesville City Council scheduled a work session for Thursday, April 28, to go over logistics for the blue ribbon commission. Councilors will then vote on whether or not to actually form the commission at their first meeting in May.

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