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Charlottesville, Groups Prepare Next Steps for Gen. Lee Statue

Posted: Updated: Feb 19, 2017 05:31 PM
Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Lee Park Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Lee Park
Wayne Wingfield Wayne Wingfield
Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy
Nancy Lowry Nancy Lowry
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The decision by Charlottesville City Council to move a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is drawing cheers from supporters and harsh criticism from others.

The issue could end up being decided in a courtroom.

City councilors voted 3-2 Monday, February 6, to move the statue from Lee Park. City staff now has 60 days to develop a plan to remove the statue, and recommend where to put it. This process is estimated to cost Charlottesville at least $350,000.

“I think that this could become a whole new chapter in the city's public visible history about race and our public spaces,” said Mayor Mike Signer, who voted not to move the statue.

Wayne Wingfield says he wanted to get another look at the monument to the general before it goes away.

“It was put here in 1924, so why do you want to take it away now?” Wingfield asked.

He added, “It's part of history. It's not hurting nothing sitting there”

Councilors unanimously decided to spend up to $1 million over the next year to redesign Lee Park and Jackson Park in Court Square. As a result, Lee Park will be renamed and a new memorial to Charlottesville's enslaved people will be installed.

“Please do not remove or transform our statues. They add culture and history to Charlottesville,” said Teresa Lam at Monday night’s meeting.

“Removing them would be a weak solution that evades the more challenging question of how to learn from them,” said Malcolm Bell to the councilors.

“Just because we disagree on certain things, it doesn't mean that we're enemies. And in fact, in order for us to really be able to move forward, we have to deal with the very difficult conversations that we're having now,” Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy said

The Sons of Confederate Veterans group says it plans to file a lawsuit against Charlottesville. Group members, as well as Virginia Flaggers, are vowing to fight the decision.

Virginia Flaggers posted a message on its blog promising several "surprises" are in the works to defend history and heritage.

"I think they [City Council] need to reevaluate the whole situation,” said Wingfield.

Nancy Lowry placed a bouquet of flowers at the base of Lee’s statue Tuesday evening.

“I'm not sure that moving it is a proper final decision to make to make everyone happy. I'm bothered and distressed,” said Lowry.

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