Charlottesville Votes to Remove Statue, Consider Commission Recommendations
Charlottesville City Council is going forward with plans to remove the statue in Justice Park, and considering recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville City Council is going forward with plans to remove the statue of a Confederate Army general in Justice Park.
Councilors cast their unanimous vote around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 5, during the City Council meeting. The resolution would remove the statue of Thomas Johnathan "Stonewall" Jackson if a judge rules in favor of removing the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park.
“I think the fact that we have allowed those statues to stay in our community for 90 years has been sort of a collective wink and a nod to the powers of white supremacy," said councilor Kristin Szakos.
“They clearly became magnets for evil and for people who wanted to turn us against ourselves and destroy a certain part of America,” Mayor Mike Signer said.
The city is currently involved in a lawsuit over councilor's earlier decision to have the Lee statue removed from the public park. Groups filed the lawsuit back in March, arguing City Council violated a Virginia code that prohibits removing monuments or memorials to war veterans.
A Charlottesville Circuit Court judge heard motions Friday, September 1, including adding the Jackson statue to the case. The judge did not take up the motion to include the second statue, and is currently delaying his decision on other matters in the lawsuit.
Councilors also made amendments to their initial plan to act on several recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Monuments, and Public Spaces. November 28, 2016, the commission voted 7-2 to move the Lee statue to McIntire Park, 5-4 to transform Emancipation Park while keeping the statue there, and 8-1 to keep the Jackson statue in Justice Park.
The commission had also suggested the city to work with the Equal Justice Initiative to accomplish a more inclusive history of race in Charlottesville.
Tuesday, council passed a motion to accomplish four major projects, which includes adding a historical marker and a memorial discussing the history of lynching to the new Downtown Park Renovation plans.
There would also be an essay contest for high school students on the city's history.
The Blue Ribbon Commission is asking for public funds to help pay for a Vinegar Hill monument, which would likely cost around $300,000.
The city already approved $18,000 for the project back in 2011, and a small percentage of private funds has been collected as well.
Councilors voted Tuesday to table the decision until it has the time to check out all of its options.
Charlottesville City Council will now work on initiatives so that a more "complete history of race is told" in the public spaces of the city.