RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — During a media briefing at River City Middle School, a new school under construction in the city, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney addressed the recent removal of monuments in the city.

Mayor Stoney said 11 monuments will come down in Richmond over the next few days. The Stonewall Jackson statue was the first to be removed on Wednesday, followed this morning by the Matthew Fontaine Maury statue.

“The reason we’re removing these monuments is because of public safety first. Over the course of the last 34 days, we’ve seen a number of people gather right here in the city of Richmond. We’ve had over 139 calls for service, right there on the monument avenue corridor,” Stoney said.

“Once we remove the remaining monuments, we can officially say that we were the former capital of the confederacy.”

The removal of the statues began after Mayor Stoney introduced a resolution to city council calling for the removal of Richmond’s Confederate statues and requesting the process be expedited. City council was unable to vote since the motion to expedite the removal of the statues requires at 24- hour notice and needs to be included in the council’s agenda.

8News asked Stoney if he is concerned about any potential legal repercussions for bypassing city council in taking down these statues. He responded saying, “I think that we stand on sound legal ground. As the mayor, I’m the emergency management director. That’s in our emergency operations plan.”

Joined by Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras, School Board Chairwoman Linda Owen and School Board, Vice Chair Cheryl Burke, Stoney discussed the One Richmond Project and mentioned other new schools planned for the city including Cardinal Elementary School.

“This is the sort of monuments moving forward that we want to erect to our children here in the City of Richmond,” said Mayor Stoney. “This is a testament to what we can do when we all work together.”

“Although you all know that we are removing monuments that, I think, exemplify hate, division and oppression, we’re going to build these monuments to opportunity right here. That’s our commitment.”

For over a year, Kamras said community leaders, historians and clergy have been working on a Richmond history course. 

Kamras said the course will teach students the history of Richmond and explain why the monuments are coming down.

“We are going to tell the good, the bad and the ugly of the history of Richmond,” Kamras said.

The course will launch in the fall whether its online or in-person.