Crews Cover Charlottesville's Confederate Statues
Statues of Confederate generals in downtown Charlottesville are now hidden under dark tarps.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Statues of Confederate generals in downtown Charlottesville are now hidden under dark tarps.
Crews with the Charlottesville Department of Parks & Recreation began concealing the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park a little after 1 p.m. Wednesday, August 23.
Some onlookers could be heard cheering as crews fully covered the statue from view.
Crews then set up in Justice Park around 1:40 p.m. to begin covering the statue of Confederate General Thomas Johnathan "Stonewall" Jackson.
“I really would’ve felt better if they had knocked them down, but just to see them covering the statues up I am overjoyed,” said onlooker Aaliyah Jones.
“It’s history. It’s a day for our community to truly move forward, it’s not the end all be all but it’s a step in the right direction. I think this also shows that when the citizens of our community speak, the council does the best to listen,” said Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy.
Bellamy said that covering the statues is a way for the city to honor Heather Heyer, Jay Cullen, and Berke M.M. Bates.
Heyer died Saturday, August 12, at the University of Virginia Medical Center after a car smashed into a group of protesters marching around the area of 4th Street and Water Street. Dozens of people were injured in that attack, as well, some severely.
Virginia State Police Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates died when their helicopter crashed along Old Farm Road in Albemarle County, also on August 12. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
The Charlottesville City Council unanimously voted Monday, August 21, to have both statues covered. Councilors also moved forward during that meeting with getting approvals to remove the statues from the Board of Architectural Review.
Bellamy had no comment over the legality of covering the two statues or how long the city plans to keep them this way.
An ongoing lawsuit is challenging a City Council vote from February to remove the Lee statue. The plaintiffs in that lawsuit are arguing that councilors acted beyond their authority and violated a state code prohibiting the removal of monuments or memorials to war veterans.
The city is arguing that the statue is not a war memorial.
The lawsuit is expected to be taken up again in Charlottesville Circuit Court in the coming weeks.
Only hours after these veils were installed on the statues, a man in Emancipation Park began trying to cut the one on the Lee statue down. He was shouted down while doing it, and stopped when police intervened.
John Miska is a disabled veteran from Charlottesville who says there should have been a "referendum" on whether to cover the statues and that a "screaming minority" should not decide the fate of the monuments.
A Facebook Live video of crews covering the Lee statue in Emancipation Park.
A Facebook Live video of crews covering the Jackson statue in Justice Park.