RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Many of Richmond’s Confederate monuments have been targeted as a result of ongoing protests.
Monuments have been vandalized during weekend protests that manifested over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota after a police officer is seen kneeling on his neck. New state law will give localities the power to decide what to do with their Confederate monuments. As of now, they still stand, and protesters using are them to spread their message.
“I think the one word is pain,” said Richmond City Councilmen Michael Jones, who represents the 9th District. “I think a lot of people are in pain and hurting.”
This past weekend, a protester was seen trying to saw down the J.E.B. Stuart Monument in Richmond. Nearby, the Robert E. Lee Memorial remains covered in graffiti with obscenities. As of Tuesday afternoon, an online petition to keep the graffiti on the monuments has more than 4,000 signatures. Councilmen Jones told 8News that both monuments represent the issues that protesters are trying to convey.
“The man (Floyd) was killed because of his race,” Jones said. “His race was marginalized because of white supremacy and the one thing that ties, at least in this part of the country and in this city specifically, are these monuments. These monuments are directly tied to white supremacy.”
Richmond resident Joe Taylor assessed the aftermath, telling 8News “personally, I think it’s a monument, it’s graffiti, who cares? People have messages and they have to get them out there.”
Virginia lawmakers passed legislation in February that would give local governments the authority to remove or relocate Confederate monuments in their public spaces, ending a state law prohibiting cities and counties from doing so.
“I think the city should decide how we dispose of them, but again, the community is talking,” Councilmen Jones told 8News.
One community member, Ka’Lia Johnson, of Richmond, echoes Councilmen Jones’ sentiments.
“The messages that’s on the statue speaks a lot to what the city feels about what needs to happen with the statues,” she said.
The state that gives localities power over their Confederate monuments will go into effect July 1.