Richmond, former Confederate capital, to weigh removing statues

Richmond, former Confederate capital, to weigh removing statues
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Richmond's mayor announced on Wednesday that the city's Monument Avenue Commission would immediately begin considering the removal of Confederate statues from the former Confederate capital.

Mayor Levar Stoney (D) said in a statement first reported by The Richmond Times-Dispatch that the commission, which was originally founded in June to "educate" residents about the importance of the statues, would instead meet to consider their removal.

“Effective immediately, the Monument Avenue Commission will include an examination of the removal and/or relocation of some or all of the confederate statues,” Stoney said. 

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He said the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Va., caused by white nationalists protesting the removal of statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee "fundamentally changed" how the city viewed the monuments of Confederate heroes such as Stonewall Jackson or Jefferson Davis.

"While we had hoped to use this process to educate Virginians about the history behind these monuments," Stoney said, "the events of the last week may have fundamentally changed our ability to do so by revealing their power to serve as a rallying point for division and intolerance and violence."

The 10-person commission is comprised of "academics, historians and community leaders," according to the Times-Dispatch. The group will weigh whether to remove the monuments fully or simply add "context."

Leaders elsewhere in the country have moved to take down their monuments in the wake of this weekend's violence, including in neighboring Baltimore, where several statues were removed Tuesday night.

Earlier in the week, Stoney blasted the monuments as "shameful" relics of the past "that we all disagree with."

“Currently, as I’ve always said, since my remarks earlier on this year, the way those statues stand currently, they’re a shameful representation of the past that we all disagree with,” the mayor said on Monday.

“For me, it’s about telling the complete truth. I don’t think removal of symbols does anything for telling the actual truth or changes the state and culture of racism in this country today.”