Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia are set to be removed following a vote by the city council, years after the deadly neo-Nazi rally that took place in the city in 2017.
Charlottesville City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to take down the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from public parks downtown. Over 50 people spoke during the public hearing, expressing the opinion that the statues should be taken down. The city resolved to “remove, relocate, contextualize or cover the Statues.”
“We look forward to transforming our downtown parks by removing these racist symbols of Charlottesville’s past,” Brian Wheeler, director of communications for the City of Charlottesville, told CNN. “There remains much work to be done in Charlottesville’s future as we work towards the goals of racial and economic justice, but this is an important milestone in that journey.”
Far-right groups, including neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and members of the Klu Klux Klan gathered for a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.
The rally was held to protest the removal of the city’s Confederate statues, which was proposed after the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white supremacist shot and killed nine black members of a church congregation.
The statues of Lee and Jackson will not be removed immediately, as the state requires 30 days to pass before the city can offer them to a museum or entity interested in preserving them.
“The City of Charlottesville offers the statues/sculptures of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate General Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson for relocation and placement to any museum, historical society, government or military battlefield,” the city said in a news alert on its website.
The statues, which are still on display in Market Street Park and Court Square Park, have been repeatedly vandalized over the last several years. In 2019, both statues were spray-painted with “1619,” the year the first slave ship arrived in Virginia.