RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond City Councilman Michael Jones (9th District) shared the resolution he plans to introduce to remove Confederate statues along Monument Avenue.
The resolution, which he initially planned to introduce on Sept. 11, requests permission from the General Assembly to take down the statues.
Jones says on the heels of the tragic events in Charlottesville, he believes this is the right thing to do and is prepared for the criticism to surface from those who don't agree.
This also comes on the heels of a rally at the Robert E Lee statue here last weekend. That event was hosted by a Confederate group from Tennessee who announced plans to rally again on Dec. 9.
The Robert E. Lee statue is state property, but City Council does not have the legal authority to remove the other statues, Jones said.
“This is a part of the process to begin looking at the legal way to remove these statues,” Jones said. “I think what you are going to find is a third of the people want them to come down, a third of the people want them to stay up and there could be a third that couldn’t care less...”.
“But we should be asking if they are morally right,” he continued. “Is it morally right for them to stand.”
Jones pointed out that African Americans make up the 50-51-percent of the city’s population.
“If this city were 51-percent Jewish and you had an avenue lined with swastikas, monuments to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime – it would not stand,” he said. “We wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
“Yet we are having this discussion about men who fought for the South,” Jones added.
He pointed out that removal of the statues does not eradicate, or change history.
“What we are not doing is romanticizing history… memorializing these men as if they were heroes of all of America,” he said.
When asked if the city has more important things to be working on, Jones said “that is the question that so many white people will lift up…so many black people that are influenced by white media will raise up.”
“It is not an either/or issue, it is a both/and issue,” he emphasized.
“We should focus on crime and focus on monuments as well,” Jones continued. “Monuments are still a part of the same system that allows for public housing to exist...that allows our children to be miseducated and undereducated.”
Jones also responded to claims of spending money on monument removal instead of schools: “We should have did that when we built Redskins park.”
“If we can find money for breweries and ballparks, we can find money to take down these statues,” he said.
Richmond city council members all received copies of the resolution Thursday.
Jones said the public will be able to participate as the council explores this highly controversial issue.
He says he knows there's no shortage of opinions on this and he knows this issue draws emotional and passionate responses by people on both sides.
“It is not just history,” Jones said. “It's a dark part of history that should not be celebrated.”
Jones says he's looking forward to the public participating in this process as they move forward.
This resolution will be introduced at the very next council meeting on Sept. 25.