Va. Governor Vetoes Monument Protection Bill
Governor McAuliffe is vetoing a law that would have stopped localities in Virginia from removing monuments created for any war or conflict.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) is vetoing a law that would have stopped localities in Virginia from removing Confederate monuments.
The law, which passed the Republican-controlled General Assembly, aimed to prevent local governments from removing monuments for the Confederate Army, Civil War, and or any other past wars or conflicts.
State law already prohibits localities from removing war monuments, but a judge recently ruled that that applied only to those raised since 1998.
The new law would have closed that loophole, but the governor refused to sign off on it, saying it should be up to the localities.
The statue of General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville’s Lee Park has been at the center of controversy for a long time.
"There are folks who feel very strongly that they're sending a really visual message to people driving through downtown as sort of endorsement of the Confederate cause. There are others who see them as beautiful art and want to see them stay," said Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos.
Szakos has proposed removing the statue, as well as the one of General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson by Albemarle Circuit Court.
“We're going down a slippery slope," said Wes Leach.
Leach is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
"It's sad that [political correctness] has really kind of taken center stage as opposed to trying to look at the situation," said Wes Leach.
Szakos says she'd like for there to be some thorough community discussion before the city moves forward with anything.
"They are part of the community, they're something I think we need a fair amount of input before we do anything," she said.
"We're opening a door here that once somebody finds something offensive, that it can be removed, and that's just not the way society needs to be," said Leach.
Szakos says the city should keep the option of tearing down the Confederate monuments in Charlottesville open, but just as one possible option. The councilor is glad the governor’s veto allows local communities to decide what to do with these monuments.