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Councilors Address Weekend Rallies, BRC Suggestions at Meeting

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Charlottesville City Council Charlottesville City Council
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Monday night, Charlottesville City Council started off its meeting addressing the events of this weekend, including the rallies on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Each councilor made a personal statement to the crowded chambers.

Each condemned the alt-right torch rally in Lee Park on Saturday night, and most said they were encouraged by the candle light solidarity rally Sunday night.    

Now the councilors are trying to figure out how to move forward.

“But what I'm going to do today, and what I hope all of you do not only today but in the future, is not ask for equality, not just do 'Kumbaya,' just not ask to do something that's easy, but demand justice and equity for everyone in this community,” Wes Bellamy said.

The councilors said that despite deep disagreements within the city at large and the council itself over whether or not to move the Robert E. Lee statue, they can agree to condemn hateful speech designed to intimidate minority groups in the city.

City Council also took up some of the lesser-known recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission dealing with memorials and public space other than the Robert E. Lee statue.

That commission touched a number of racially-charged memorials and public spaces.

The councilors discussed half-dozen smaller-scale recommendations after hearing status updates from city staff. They discussed the commission's recommendation to create a Vinegar Hill monument and issue a request for proposal for a Court Square Slave Auction Block memorial.

They also talked about working with Albemarle County to acknowledge the lynching of John Henry James.

 “But I just want to give staff instruction on this to do this carefully and probably in some consultation with other historians who could search for any other names that could be properly included on this,” Mike Signer said.

Other recommendations on the table included re-naming new streets or buildings after members of Charlottesville’s African-American community and history, and potentially working with city schools to revamp history classes to include local history of slavery and racism in Charlottesville.     

Council directed staff to move forward with these ideas, asking for more information before making any solid decisions or voting on specific projects.

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