RICHMOND, Va. -- The man who filed a request to hold a pro-monument rally at the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond is speaking out about his plans and the timing of the possible event.
Brag Bowling with the Coalition for Monument Preservation said he filed the request weeks ago, before the deadly aftermath of a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville last weekend.
The request is to hold the rally at the Confederate general's monument on Saturday, Sept. 16 at noon.
The Richmond man emphasized that the pro-monument rally is not a confederate event, nor affiliated with any type of hate or alt-right group.
Bowling said he wants to save all statues from being moved because they are part of history. He said this includes confederate statues, and statues honoring other Richmond icons like Arthur Ashe.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney recently set-up the Monument Avenue Commission to explore adding new statues to Richmond's Monument Avenue and/or adding context to existing Confederate monuments that line the historic street.
Bowling said he doesn’t believe the commission will add context, but rather create a deeper divide by spelling out more information on statues.
Bowling also offered advice for those who oppose confederate monuments ‘turn your head if you don’t like it.’
After the events in Charlottesville and subsequent protest in Richmond, Bowling said he is unsure if he will get a permit.
Dena Potter with the Virginia Department of General Services said, regardless of whether the request is approved, the agency will meet with Bowling.
Monday, Mayor Levar Stoney also addressed the possibly for the September 16 rally.
“I would make the request that in light of the events that happened in Charlottesville we take a deep look at whether or not this is something that should go forward on September 16,” he said. “But nonetheless, Richmond will be prepared to protect all of its citizens against anything that may harm their safety we are ready to go and we will be prepared.”
Bowling said he is looking forward to meeting with police and the city to talk about the rally.
If his permit is approved, he said he will think long and hard about having the event.
Bowling said he is worried that the recent events are giving notice to the “people causing the trouble”, referencing David Duke, alt-right groups and extremists.
He said he believes the national attention over the Charlottesville rally could bring unwanted people to Richmond.
Bowling went on to say that he doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt and would consider canceling or postponing the event if he felt there was a threat to anyone’s safety.
The request for the rally is still being considered by the Virginia Department of General Services.