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Proposed Law Could Allow Charlottesville to Remove Lee, Jackson Statues

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The Virginia General Assembly is looking at a bill that may affect the potential removal of statues in Charlottesville.

Virginia House Bill 1097 would give city council the authority to remove certain monuments and war memorials like the currently-covered statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Johnathan “Stonewall” Jackson.

The bill, which went before a subcommittee Wednesday, January 24, was introduced earlier in the month by 45th District Delegate Mark H. Levine.

The Democrat’s bill says the governing body of a locality should be able to decide for itself whether or not to keep a monument.

Then-councilors Bob Fenwick, Kristin Szakos, and Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy last year voted to remove the two statues from Charlottesville’s downtown parks. Former-mayor Mike Signer and councilor Kathy Galvin had been in favor of keeping the statues, but later changed their decision.

Galvin said Wednesday that she is hopeful Levine’s proposed bill will turn into law.

"That gives us the latitude to move the statues, because we won't be committing a felony, a crime by moving the statues down. Currently, it is a criminal act to remove these memorials," said the councilor.

Galvin says the current City Council also wants to change the plastic tarps that cover the statues into a different type of “screening” that could be used in the meantime to tell Charlottesville's "complete story." The previous council voted unanimously to place the “mourning shrouds” over the Lee and Jackson statues following the deaths of Heather Heyer, and two members of the Virginia State Police – Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates.

The must bill pass the Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee before it can be taken up by the Senate.

The current members of Charlottesville City Council are Mayor Nikuyah Walker, Vice Mayor Heather Hill, councilor Kathy Galvin, councilor Wes Bellamy, and councilor Mike Signer.