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Charlottesville City Council Votes to Move Lee Statue, Rename Park

Posted: Updated: Feb 18, 2017 10:53 PM
City Hall City Hall
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Charlottesville City Council has voted to move the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee out of downtown.

The final vote was 3 to 2, with Bob Fenwick voting for the move after abstaining last vote, leaving it in a tie.

Councilors voted in front of a massive crowd that spilled into the hallways and an overflow room and after the vote, the room mostly erupted in cheers ... with a few boos mixed in.

Fenwick pointed to Lee's legacy leading the Confederacy.

“The mission of that federal armed force was to preserve the economic lifeblood of the Confederacy, literally, and that was the enslavement of human beings.

Wes Bellamy voted for moving the statue.

“We will not be bullied, we will not be pushed away,” Bellamy said.

As well as Kristen Szakos, who said it was her Christian faith that led her to the decision.

“Time after time in his teaching, Jesus called out the need to act with mercy for those with less power in society,” Szakos said.

Kathy Galvin said she would vote against moving it, because keeping the statue makes people reckon with the city's past.

Transform the statue in place is a way to keep these works in place but compel people to remember the dominance of slavery and Jim Crow White Supremacy in Charlottesville, within the context with which they were designed.

Mike Signer similarly explained his vote against the motion was not a vote for the statue, but rather in support of efforts to contextualize it in place.

“We'd be focusing on the less controversial but still extremely important recommendations contained in the Blue Ribbon Commission's report,” Signer said.

He also pointed to the uncertainty surrounding costs, logistics and legality of moving the statue, questions that are now in the lap of city staff as it must figure out next steps.

Council did vote to rename Lee Park in a 5 to 0 vote. City staff members now have to come back to council with options for moving forward, including how to get over the legal hurdles.

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