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City Council passes resolution to ask General Assembly for authority over Confederate statues

City Council passes resolution to ask General Assembly for authority over Confederate statues
Posted at 4:52 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 19:11:01-05

RICHMOND, Va. --Richmond City Council passed a resolution Monday to ask the General Assembly for authority over Confederate monuments in the city.

The resolution passed in a 6-2 vote during a special meeting Monday evening.

Now that the resolution has passed, the council will petition the state legislature for permission to take down or modify its Confederate statues. Richmond is the former capital of the Confederacy and large memorials to Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee line Monument Avenue a few miles from the state capitol.

Councilman Michael Jones, who brought forth the resolution, said his goal was dialogue.

"With removal never being on the table, there will never be a true dialogue," Jones said.

"I want to thank my Six Colleagues for having the courage to vote in favor of the Resolution for our locality to have the right to decide the fate of monuments. I know that I am NOT the only person who is fighting this fight. We are in this together," Jones tweeted.

Multiple council members say if they get the approval from the state, this only begins the conversation about potentially removing or adding monuments.

Virginia state law allows local governments to erect war monuments, but prohibits the local governments from taking them down or modifying them. The law also prohibits local governments from moving the monuments or adding placards explaining why they were erected.

Jefferson Davis monument

Jones had brought forth earlier versions of the resolution in December 2017 and again in October 2018. The city council rejected both resolutions.

Virginia's General Assembly flipped to majority Democratic during the last election. The freshman class of delegates will be sworn in Wednesday.

Delegate-elect Sally Hudson represents Charlottesville, the site of the Unite the Right rally in 2017 which resulted in three deaths. The Charlottesville City Council voted to remove Confederate statues, but that vote was struck down in April by the courts.

Councilman Michael Jones

Hudson plans on bringing forth legislation that would allow municipalities to decide the fate of local war memorials themselves. She sees the right to remove local monuments as an "urgent safety need."

"I think it's important for cities to decide what we celebrate. But specifically for our community the statues are a public safety threat," Hudson said. "Every day we have ongoing echoes of the challenges we faced then, whether that's further court proceedings that attract a crowd or a lone protester who comes back to revisit the sites."