Local authorities removed two Confederate monuments in Charlottesville last Saturday, July 10, one of which sparked a serious rally that left one dead five years ago.
Statues of Gen. Robert E. Lee and Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson were removed. The stone bases will be kept for the time being and removed later.
Back in 2017, a group of people rallied under the name “Unite the Right” to protect the statue of Lee after Charlottesville City Council voted to take it down. The ugly chaos that ensued left 32-year-old protester Heather Heyer dead and sparked a national debate over racial equity.
The protestors were called “the white supremacists and the Nazis.”
The city had been unable to act until now due to litigation and amendments to state legislation governing war memorials.
A resolution by the City Council voted unanimously to remove the Lee and Jackson statues and commence a 30-day offering period for relocation and placement to any museum, historical society, government, or military battlefield. The 30-day period ran through July 7, 2021.
The Council appropriated funds ($1 million) for removal, storage, and/or covering of the Lee and Jackson statues and the statue depicting Sacajawea, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark.
An activist group released a statement praising the move on Friday. According to a coalition called Take ’Em Down Cville, the presence of the statue “signal that our community tolerated white supremacy and the Lost Cause these generals fought for.”
Activists have long campaigned to remove such symbols, but after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis last year, the effort gained traction. Although Confederate emblems are now more closely associated with white supremacy, many people defend the monuments and memorials as part of their Southern history.