Charlottesville Votes to Ditch Confederate Statues That Ignited ‘Unite the Right’ Rally 1

In 2017, white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville for the deadly Unite the Right rally to protest against a plan to remove two statues of Confederate generals from public parks.

Their cause has failed. On Monday, the city council voted once again to get rid of the monuments.

The argument about whether to remove the two statues, one of Robert E. Lee and one of Stonewall Jackson, has raged for years. The city voted to remove the monuments in 2017, leading to the disastrous white supremacist rally that ended with the murder of one counterprotester, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was mowed down by a car and killed.

Attempts to get rid of the Confederate statues were then tied up in court proceedings following the rally, when a group of citizens filed a lawsuit and a judge granted an injunction to block the removal. However, Virginia’s Supreme Court dismissed that decision in April, opening up the possibility that the Charlottesville City Council could restart their removal efforts.

According to Charlottesville news network WVIR, that’s exactly what happened late on Monday night. During a virtual council meeting, there was a unanimous vote to remove the two statues from city parks. The precise plan for the statues is still to be decided, but the vote at last makes it official that they will no longer be housed in public spaces.

At the meeting, several community leaders made it clear that they want the statues to be gone by the anniversary of the Unite the Right rally this August so white supremacists don’t gather there again. Many also voiced their opinion that the statues should be destroyed, and not simply be moved to a new location such as a museum or battlefield site.

“It’s past time for those things to come down,” community leader Don Gathers said at Monday night’s council meeting, according to The Washington Post. “If my trash ends up in a neighbor’s yard, it’s still trash… Those things are like the bat signal for white supremacists.”

“The [Lee] statue attracts violent, radical extremists from all over the state and all over the county,” said Charlottesville resident Kat Maybury. Another speaker, Katrina Turner, reportedly urged the city to melt down the statues, telling council leaders: “Get rid of them where nobody else has to look at what has stood for so long to keep us in our place.”

Some spoke against the resolution but, according to the Post, they were vastly outnumbered by people who wanted to see the statues go. The council’s unanimously approved resolution included a 30-day period to hear ideas from residents on what should happen to the statues.

Zyahna Bryant, who led calls to remove the statues as a teenager in 2o17, attended the Monday meeting in which the council voted to get rid of the statues. On Tuesday morning, she wrote on Twitter: “Last night the Charlottesville City Council voted to remove the confederate statues again. I’m in a damn good mood. Thank a Black woman today.”