Charlottesville Statue Controversy: Conflicted Court and Constituency

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The decision to remove or keep two Confederate Army general statues will be postponed until further notice.

Judge Richard E. Moore extended an injunction for the case on October 24th, however there will be no set timetable for the verdict until the final court order is set. There was a six month injunction set for the case already.

Originally, the Charlottesville City Council voted for the removal of the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues. A lawsuit against the city claims that Lee was in fact a relevant historical figure and his statue must be considered a Civil War memorial. The defense argues that the statues are not necessarily memoriam of the Civil War. Prosecutors also assert that the statues are protected by the state.This local controversy with national relevance has gone back and forth, with two sides taking very firm stances on the matter.

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Local voices in the Charlottesville community had varying opinions about this discrepancy.

UVa sociology graduate teaching assistant and Charlottesville resident Sarah Johnson expressed her point of view and a possible solution to the matter.

“My thought on the issue is that the monuments are a historical artifact of Jim Crow era racism, as my understanding is that’s when the majority of them were put up. As such, they belong in a museum detailing our area’s complex history, in the way Nazi memorabilia belong in German museums, not displayed in public parks,” Johnson said.

Charlottesville resident Patrick Ronayne however, feels that the statues should remain in place.

“I don’t agree with what any of the people being honored stood for, but you can’t just erase all of the bad history. Should we tear down Monticello because Jefferson had slaves?”

Ronayne offered an alternative to removing the statues. “Instead of tearing them down the city should find a way to turn them into a learning point for citizens and visitors of Charlottesville,” he said.

Other UVa students are likewise opinionated about statue removal.

Bella Bean stated that: “Obviously the statues are offensive and have been causing issues so personally I think they should definitely take them down. However, I think that the citizens themselves should be able to vote on it, and do whatever makes the community comfortable. If the removal happens the city needs to be ready for more riots.”

Brandon Johnson shared this opinion.

“They should take them down because they are simply too much of a controversy. Those figures weren’t fighting for the beliefs we want to have in America. They are symbols of anti-union and slavery,” Johnson remarked.

In contrast, University of Virginia student Oliver Taylor agrees that the statues should stay.

“I understand why some find it offensive and want it taken down. Ultimately, there has to be something that reminds us of what happened during the Civil War, so not all Confederate statues should be taken down. There should definitely be monuments constructed that are dedicated to slaves during that time period as well.”

Fellow Hoo Brendan Ackelson also thinks the statues should stay put, arguing that the controversy of the statues is in the past.

“Obviously we need change in the ideologies of some people in Charlottesville and around the country, but taking down a statue won’t do anything but draw division,” Ackelson said.

“It is a reminder that there once was oppression in our country, and we should never go back to that.”


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