Richmond city council members seek legal opinion on immediate removal of Confederate monuments

Richmond

J.E.B. Stuart Memorial in Richmond (photo taken by 8News).

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Citing “public safety reasons,” Richmond City Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch posted on Twitter early Monday that she, along with fellow council member Michael Jones, is calling on the city to remove its Confederate statues immediately.

The push to remove the monuments comes after Richmond police broke up a gathering of protesters Sunday night that authorities declared unlawful. The protesters were accused of trying to pull down the statue of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart.

“For public safety reasons, (among all other reasons we support taking down the Confederate Monuments) @thedrmikesjones and I are calling for their immediate removal as other cities across the nation have done,” Lynch wrote on Twitter just after midnight Monday.

A proposal to remove Confederate statues from Monument Avenue is all but certain to be adopted, with every Richmond City Council member signaling their support just two days after the idea was floated by Mayor Levar Stoney earlier this month.

That bill is expected to be introduced on July 1, the first day local governments have the authority to remove Confederate monuments, but council members Lynch and Jones are looking into ways to expedite the process.

Lynch, who represents the city’s 5th District, and 9th District councilman Jones asked Interim City Attorney Haskell Brown in a letter sent Monday about whether there is any legal precedent that would make way for “the remaining confederate monuments and memorials in Richmond to be removed as soon as possible.”

Statues memorializing Confederate figures, including the Jefferson Davis monument in Richmond, have been torn down amid protests over racism and police brutality across Virginia in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“Protesters have clearly shown they are willing to take the removal of these statues into their own hands, as we have seen with the removal of smaller monuments in the city; there is a risk of people being injured or killed in an attempt to damage or remove the remaining monuments,” the letter states.

“It is the responsibility of City Council, as elected representatives of the people, to acknowledge safety threats, take legislative action when necessary, and demand action from the administration,” Lynch and Jones continue.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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