People Show Support for, Opposition to Lee Statue in Charlottesville
A peaceful rally calling for the removal of the statue at Lee Park in Charlottesville turned into a shouting match as people voiced their opinions on the issue.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A rally asking the city of Charlottesville to remove a Confederate war hero's monument in Lee Park turned into a yelling match as a total of almost a hundred people argued about the statue.
Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy held a press conference Tuesday morning to show his and other citizens' disapproval of the statue of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee in a public park.
Fifteen-year-old Zyahna Bryant, a student at Charlottesville High School, started a petition to remove the statue after meeting with Bellamy.
The petition calls the monument "offensive".
"Keeping a statue here is representing hate and a subliminal message of racism that has existed in Charlottesville for a very long time," Bryant said.
Several civil rights activists spoke at the conference, but supporters of Confederate history interrupted, yelling comments like “racist”' and "stop spreading hate.”
“[The statue] means all the horror of the legacy of black people. It romanticizes citizens who don't know. They look at that statue, they think that was a gallant person that saved us, but he was a terrorist," Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP President Rick Turner.
One group says city council and Bellamy are disregarding Lee's historical significance and how important he was to Virginia.
"This man served the United States as a veteran, and so why would you dishonor an American veteran? It’s just that simple,” Virginia Flagger member Barry Isenhour said.
"I just don't feel like history needs to be changed and this monument here. It does not need to go, it represents history," said Robert Elliott.
"Their heritage is in the history books, online, on the internet. It’s everywhere, in museums, I have to look at it every day when I go to school," Bryant said.
She also said, "I think they know their heritage, and its right there in their own homes. It does not belong here in a public park."
A counter petition on change.org is calling on Charlottesville City Council to keep the statue and add a monument to the late civil rights leader and University of Virginia professor Julian Bond.
Mayor Mike Signer released a plan to create a commission that would get public input and create options, like moving memorials to a museum or adding new memorials.
Charlottesville City Council is expected to take up the issue at its meeting on April 18.