The Charlottesville City Council unanimously voted, late Monday night, to remove the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues from public parks. These statues have been the center of controversy ever since the “Unite the Right” rallies of August 2017.
While the removal of these statues has been on the mind of the city council since late 2017, a lawsuit filed by a group of citizens resulted in an court-issued injunction that prohibited the city from removing the controversial monuments. However, in April of 2021, the Virginia Supreme Court threw out this lawsuit and ruled that Charlottesville -or any other city- had the right to remove these statues.
While the Charlottesville City Council was unanimous in their vote to remove the statues, several citizens voiced their distain for the council’s decision. Citing the history behind these statues, these Charlottesville residents stated that the statues should be contextualized, rather than removed or destroyed.
While this is the first step in having these controversial statues removed from public spaces in Charlottesville, the council is giving the general public 30 days to submit proposals as to what should be done with the statues. This waiting period will expire on July 7, roughly one month away from the four year anniversary of the violent attacks on the Charlottesville community.
Moving forward, the city of Charlottesville will hope to serve as a successful example of how to handle the removal of Confederate statues in Virginia.