Councilman on failed Confederate monuments vote: ‘Justice deferred is justice denied’

RICHMOND, Va. -- One day after Richmond City Council voted down a resolution asking the General Assembly to grant permission to move confederate monuments on Monument Avenue, the council member who put forth the resolution said council let down their constituents.

Councilman Michael Jones asked, "Did white supremacy win out last evening? "at a news conference at City Hall Tuesday.

Several council members who voted against the paper said Monday night they wanted to give the Monument Avenue Commission, founded by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, more time to study the issue. Last month, the commission announced at an organizational meeting they will expand community engagement regarding the future of confederate statues and that they plan on releasing their recommendation in April or May of 2018.

Jones said Tuesday the commission's work was a separate issue from City Council's job as a legislative body. Jones agreed with the city attorney's legal opinion that moving the monuments would require approval by the state lawmakers; however, he said delaying action on asking for permission is a mistake.

Councilman Michael Jones

"Can we wait another year, another two years? We can, but justice deferred is justice denied," Jones said. He added that delays in seeking permission from the state only continued to limit the voice of the African American community in Richmond.

"An African proverb says, 'Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter,'" Jones said.

Jones said the resolution did not mean council would immedoiately try to move statues, only that they would have the action in their "back pocket" if that decision is eventually made.

Signs that read "Preserve our monuments" have been placed in front of several homes along Monument Avenue. Bill Gallasch has one in front of his home near the Jefferson Davis monument. Gallasch said he wants the statues preserved for historical reasons, but said he recognizes they symbolize something different to some of his neighbors.

Bill Gallasch

Gallasch applauded the city council's decision to wait for the Monument Avenue Commission to finish their work because of the complexity of any decision regarding the confederate symbols.

"I like to have a nice, slow, easy, thoughtful process. Let's do it right," Gallasch said.

Jones said he will continue to fight for his resolution.