RICHMOND, Va. -- Travis Toombs said he got more emotional than he intended at Wednesday night's public meeting to discuss Mayor Levar Stoney's initiative to add context to the confederate statutes on Monument Avenue, but previous speakers pushed him over the edge.
"I do not want to see any monuments on there for any of them low down invading raping murdering looting heathens from the North (yelling) when they came down here," Toombs said at the meeting to cheers and boos.
Toombs said he came to the meeting, which was hosted by the Monument Avenue Commission, to share opposition to adding context and his ideas for adding additional monuments to the city.
But, he said he became so emotional after hearing people speak about wanting to remove monuments, he changed his speech.
"My family fought under General Robert E. Lee and any attack on Robert E. Lee on any kind of level is personal to me," Toombs said. “As aggressive as the attacks were last night it got very personal to me."
The Co-Chair of the Commission, Gregg Kimball, had to remind people the purpose of the commission Stoney created is not to discuss whether to tear down the monuments.
"It isn't what we want to talk about, and I think for our next meeting, I hope people who watch this will recognize that and come with other ideas," Kimball, the Director of Publications and Educational Services at The Library of Virginia, said.
Kimball admitted that people seemed unclear on the purpose of the meeting and that led to high emotions.
"Maybe we could do a better job of communicating what we really need," Kimball said.
Meaghan Rymer, who also spoke at the meeting, said she was confused too and felt like the confusion hurt the Commission's purpose.
"I think people get so passionate that they shut down to the other side of the story, they shut down to compromise," Rymer said.
Kimball said he hopes the next meeting will be more focused on concrete ideas for context or additional statues, though he said no matter what, the discussion will be emotional.
"We are talking about people's ancestors and when you talk about people's ancestors that's a pretty heavy topic," Kimball said.
The next public meeting with the Monument Avenue Commission is September 13 at the Virginia Historical Society.