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Charlottesville’s Blue Ribbon Commission Shares Draft Proposal

Posted: Updated: Nov 22, 2016 10:51 PM
People participating in public comment at the Blue Ribbon Commission's meeting Thursday People participating in public comment at the Blue Ribbon Commission's meeting Thursday
Commission Chair Don Gathers Commission Chair Don Gathers
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Charlottesville’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Monuments, and Public Spaces shared its initial draft proposal with the public Thursday, November 10.
    
Many people spoke up during public comment asking commissioners to reconsider their vote and to remove confederate statues in Charlottesville.

Commissioners began the meeting by laying out each one of their motions. After that, they opened the floor up to more than 50 people who shared their concerns during public comment.

“They are historical works of art and, more importantly, because Henry Shrady is my great, great, great uncle,” said Ned Fry, public comment participant.

“I support the removal of the statues, at least to another locale in Charlottesville, in confronting not only their history but also their reality as racist artifacts of the James Crowe south,” said Chuck Matthews who participated in public comment.

The auditorium at Walker Upper Elementary School was divided Thursday. Some asked commissioners to leave Charlottesville’s Confederate statues in place while a much larger majority called for the removal or relocation of the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park and Stonewall Jackson statue in Jackson Park.

"It is unconscionable that our downtown spaces are dominated by monuments for those who sought to dissolve our nation to maintain slavery and uphold citizenship from black Americans,” said Jalane Schmidt, public comment participant. 

Several dozen people who live in Charlottesville and Albemarle County were wearing shirts reinforcing the point to "move the statues" and "change the names."

The front of their shirts read, "We stand with the 52 percent," referring to the 52 percent of the Charlottesville population that was enslaved during the Civil War.

“The vote last week that was taken as far as the statues was 6 to 3 in order to retain them with the condition that they can be properly contextualized,” said Commission Chair Don Gathers.

With such a negative response Thursday night to that vote, commissioners may decide to revisit it. They encouraged the community to keep on sending emails and sharing their thoughts.

Commissioners have one last scheduled meeting on November 28. That's when the commission will finalize its proposed packet.

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