ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to remove the “At Ready” Confederate statue outside its courthouse in downtown Charlottesville.
The decision came after the supervisors got some insight Thursday night on what the public wanted to see done with the memorial.
“At Ready” features a confederate soldier, which is flanked by cannons and cannonballs.
While the speakers had different experiences and reasons behind their stances, nearly all of them were united under the same message: get rid of the statue.
“We’ve got to figure out how to live together,” said Brenda Brown-Grooms, a pastor with the New Beginnings Christian Community. “It is more than offensive to me to have those statues on the grounds that my ancestors bled for.”
Among the many reasons the speakers shared for why removal of the statue was necessary: it was erected in 1909, well after the Civil War, with specific intent.
“It is well-documented that this statue was erected with the intention of intimidation of African-Americans during the Jim Crow era,” said county resident Leslie Middleton.
A number of law professionals spoke about justice, including Bryan Slaughter, the president of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association. Shortly before the public hearing, CABA voted on its own resolution in support of removing the monument.
At the hearing, former Charlottesville City Council Member Kristin Szakos said the statue is a symbol of injustice.
“Clear to every Black defendant who must pass them on the way into court: this space is reserved for the Confederate cause,” she said. “You will find no justice here.”
With the three-year anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally approaching, Matthew Christensen recalled trauma he, and others in the region, feel.
“The alt-right’s ideal white ethnostate, the Confederate States of America, has been defended by Johnny Reb from the lawn of the courthouse.”
Just two of the more than 20 speakers supported keeping the statue.
“But I think if we’re to remove, start to remove some parts of our history, we can perhaps even replace it with one-sided history of a different viewpoint,” said county resident Mark Beliles.
Supervisors are unsure of where the statue could be relocated, but they all agreed that it cannot call Court Square home.
“This is the grounds of the courthouse. The hallowed halls of justice,” said Supervisor Donna Price. “Every citizen should demand and expect that they will receive equal justice, equal protection under the law.”
“I also believe, however, that if this was at Lane Auditorium or in another place, another building of county government, I think this Board of Supervisors would have come to the same decision,” said Ned Galloway, the chair of the board.
The county now has to offer the memorials to any museums, historical societies, governments, or battlefields for the next 30 days before they’re removed as early as September 6.
Albemarle County Release August 6, 2020
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Votes to Remove At Ready, Cannons, and Cannonballs at Court Square
Albemarle County is one of the first locality in Virginia to take action under amended State Code
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA - The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors tonight passed a resolution to remove the At Ready statue, cannons, and stack of cannonballs located in front of the historic courthouse at Court Square.”It is with pride that the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors takes action to remove the At Ready statue. We know that taking this action is not some end point. We have a lot of work to do and that work is in our policy work, in affordable housing, in our schools – we know we have a long way to go. I’m looking forward to getting to that work”, shared Ned Gallaway, Chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Albemarle County is one of the first localities in Virginia to take action under the enabling authority provided under an amendment to Virginia Code § 15.2-1812 that authorizes localities to remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover war monuments and memorials in their community. According to state code, the Board of Supervisors must now offer for a period of 30 days the monument or memorial for relocation and placement to any museum, historical society, government, or military battlefield. On September 6, 2020, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the Memorials will be removed from Court Square and safely stored until the Board exercises its sole authority to determine their final disposition.Any statement of interest in the Memorials from a museum, historical society, government, or military battlefield must be:
- Received by the County by not later than September 5, 2020 if sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Postmarked by not later than September 5, 2020 if sent through the United States Postal Service to the Office of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22902; or
- Received in the Office of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia by the first County business day after September 5, 2020 if hand-delivered or sent by any private parcel service