Virginia lawmakers vote to undo protections for Confederate monuments

The Virginia state House and Senate, which are both controlled by Democrats, have voted to pass legislation that would undo existing protections for Confederate monuments, The Associated Press reports.

According to the news service, the legislation passed by both chambers over the weekend would roll back a longstanding law in the state that blocks the removal of public war memorials. The law has served as a roadblock for lawmakers who have sought to take down Confederate monuments in their communities since before the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017. 

Republican lawmakers were able to strike down similar legislation seeking to circumvent the state law in recent years.

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However, with Democrats currently holding the majority in both the state House and Senate, the bill was able to pass through the Virginia General Assembly and now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for his consideration.

According to The Associated Press, Northam has already indicated support for localities in the state being able to decide whether they want to keep their Confederate monuments or have them removed. 

However, the legislation passed over the weekend reportedly includes exceptions for cemeteries. It also includes steps a locality must take before it can remove a monument, such as holding a public hearing or offering the monument to an institution like a museum.

Del. Delores McQuinn (D), who sponsored the measure, told the AP that she thinks more local officials “are going to be interested in contextualizing, you know, making sure that there is a sense of truth told and shared with the public.”

However, the bill has been met with some opposition from Republicans. 

While State Sen. Amanda Chase (R) condemned slavery in a recent legislative debate, she said “it doesn’t mean that we take all of these monuments down,” according to the AP.

“We remember our past and we learn from it,” she added.