Organizer cancels September 16 monument rally in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. -- The man who filed a request to hold a pro-monument rally at the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond next month has decided to cancel the event.

Brag Bowling, with the Coalition for Monument Preservation, said that after weekend violence in Charlottesville, he did not want to see similar violent protests in Richmond.

Bowling said what happened in Charlottesville changed everything for him. He said he did not want "outside elements" to descend upon Richmond and that he is in no way associated with the extreme groups that were present Saturday.

"I'm totally opposed to those groups that were in Charlottesville and the causes that they wanted. I'm here for preserving Richmond's monuments, not to get in some racial fight with radicals."

Bowling said he filed the rally request nearly a month ago, before Saturday's white nationalist protest in Charlottesville.

The request was to hold the rally at the Confederate General Robert E. Lee monument on Saturday, Sept. 16 at noon.

Bowling said he wanted a peaceful event to stand against Mayor Levar Stoney's push to add more context to the Confederate statues. Now, he said he feels discouraged.

"It's a form of suppressing your voice when everyone says, 'It's racist or whatever' And it isn't--not what we're doing."

Bowling says he doesn't plan to organize another rally in the near future.

Robert E. Lee monument

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 did not 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 was unsure if he would get a permit.

Dena Potter with the Virginia Department of General Services said Monday, regardless of whether the request was approved, the agency would 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.”