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Virginia Dem gov candidate calls for removing Confederate statues

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Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is reaffirming his call for Confederate statues and monuments in the state to be taken down and moved into museums.

“I support City of Charlottesville’s decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue,” Northam, who’s running for governor, said in a statement Wednesday. “I believe these statues should be taken down and moved into museums. As governor, I am going to be a vocal advocate for that approach and work with localities on this issue.”

Northam said Virginia also should “do more to elevate the parts of our history that have all too often been underrepresented.”

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“That means memorializing civil rights advocates like Barbara Johns and Oliver Hill, who helped move our Commonwealth closer towards equality,” he said.

Northam’s call to remove Confederate statues comes amid a national debate over whether such monuments belong on public property or should be placed in museums or historical sites. 

Baltimore’s mayor ordered the quiet overnight removal of Confederate statues, saying Wednesday that she was acting in the “best interest” of the city.

Northam’s statement Wednesday wasn’t the first time the lieutenant governor called for Confederate statues to be placed in museums.

He has said that, while he supports moving the statues to museums, the decision to do so ultimately belongs to individual communities.

“I’ll grant that statement goes a little farther, but it’s still an iteration of his position that he personally believes and will advocate for these statues to come down but he will support localities as they make their own determinations,” a spokesperson for Northam’s campaign said in an email. 

Northam’s comments on Wednesday also follow violence in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend during a demonstration by white nationalists and neo-Nazi groups opposed to the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. 

One person was killed and many injured after a man with ties to neo-Nazi groups allegedly drove his car through a crowd of counterdemonstrators. 

President Trump on Tuesday appeared to defend those protesting the removal of the Lee statue. He also suggested that removing Confederate monuments could eventually lead to taking down statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves.

Updated at 4:00 p.m.

Tags Charlottesville Donald Trump Ralph Northam Virginia
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