RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Monument Avenue Commission formed by Mayor Levar Stoney nearly a year ago to “redefine the false narrative of the Confederate statues that line” Monument Avenue released their full report on Monday.
In the 117-page report, the 10-member commission recommended removing the Jefferson Davis monument and repurposing the site for a new monument, pending the outcome of current litigation or changes in state law.
“Of all the statues, this one is most unabashedly Lost Cause in its design and sentiment,” the commissioners wrote.’
The commission also recommended adding permanent signage for each monument that “reflects the historic, biographical, artistic and changing meaning over time.”
Other recommendations made by the commission include:
- Creating a permanent exhibit that takes a deeper historical look into the history of the monuments, creating a mobile app and new film and video features that ensure the narrative about Monument Avenue is “consistent and historically accurate.”
- Engage Richmond’s arts community to create “new contemporary artistic works that bring new and expanded meaning” to Monument Avenue.
- Commission a monument that commemorates the resilience of the formerly enslaved, such as a work dedicated to soldiers of the United States Colored Troops.
“In the course of the work, it became abundantly clear the majority of the public acknowledges Monument Avenue cannot and should not remain exactly as it is. Change is needed and desired. The public offered many fascinating ideas, and the majority seemed to favor a multi-faceted approach,” the report states.
The full report can be found here.
8News spoke Monday afternoon with Mayor Stoney, who said although he wanted to see all of the Confederate monuments on the roadway removed, getting rid of the Jefferson Davis statue is appropriate because he believes it speaks to “lost cause rhetoric more than any of the other ones on city ground.”
“I think it’s appropriate that we take steps as a city to move the ball forward in terms of showing people who we are today,” Mayor Stoney said. “Not a 100 years ago, but today. “That means, although we’re a historic city, we can also be one that is diverse, inclusive and progressive.”
The Virginia Flaggers, who, according to their website, ” … stand AGAINST those who would desecrate our Confederate Monuments and memorials, and FOR our Confederate Veterans,” released the following statement regarding Monday’s developments:
The Virginia Flaggers are certainly not surprised by the recommendations of Mayor Stoney’s stacked Monument Avenue Commission report, but we are concerned that the citizens of Richmond have not done more to put an end to this colossal waste of taxpayer time and resources.
The “recommendation” by the committee that the Jefferson Davis monument be removed is in direct violation of Virginia State law and the Charter of Richmond, neither of which allow for the removal of the monument. It is beyond comprehension why the committee would recommend that City Council take such an action, considering the extraordinary costs that would ensue in the legal battle that would follow if they tried, and the fact that a judge in Charlottesville recently ruled that not only can the city be held liable if they attempt to break the law, but individual city council members may be sued as well.
The report further mentions adding “context” to the monuments, including the Robert E. Lee monument, which is not even the property of the City of the Richmond. Thankfully, the Commonwealth owns that magnificent monument, and City Council has no say in its care taking. Further, the remaining three monuments mentioned need no 21st century PC “context’. Our grandmothers carved the meaning in stone and the truth is there for all to read. Those monuments serve to honor the brave men who fought and died to defend the Commonwealth and the City of Richmond. Period. With all due respect, neither Mayor Stoney, nor City Council, nor the members of this commission have the right to judge or condemn the monuments, the men for whom they were erected, OR the wives, daughters and surviving veterans who erected them.
A poll taken just days ago confirmed, ONCE AGAIN, that the majority of citizens in Virginia oppose remove Confederate monuments and the few localities across the country that have attempted removal have left destruction, chaos, and division in their wake. Richmond has the opportunity to do the right for all of the citizens of Richmond by leaving the monuments alone.
We pray City Council will ignore these recommendations and return council’s focus to the important matters facing our community. One thing is for sure, should City Council attempt any changes to the monuments, we stand ready to take all measures necessary to protect them, up to and including civil and legal action.