RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond’s top prosecutor is asking one of the state’s senior officials if Mayor Levar Stoney “had the authority to immediately remove war memorials,” following his declaration that nearly a dozen Confederate monuments would come down.
Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin tells 8News she has asked for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s opinion on the divisive matter.
“I have requested an Opinion from the Attorney General as to whether Mayor Stoney had the authority to immediately remove war memorials as permitted by Va. Code Section 15.2-1812, without following the process outlined in that statute,” McEachin told 8News’ Dean Mirshahi.
In response to unrest in the city, Mayor Stoney announced during a briefing at River City Middle School on July 2 that 11 monuments would come down in Richmond in the following days. The removal of Confederate statues began after Stoney introduced a resolution to city council calling for the 11 statues’ evacuation while requesting the process be expedited.
8News reported that city council was unable to vote since the motion to expedite the removal of the statues required a 24- hour notice and needed to be included in the council’s agenda.
Nonetheless, Stoney proceeded. As of Wednesday evening, seven statues have been removed from the city:
- Stonewall Jackson
- Matthew Fontaine Maury
- Cannon sitting atop a pedestal just west of the Arthur Ashe memorial
- Cannon near the statue memorializing the President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis
- J.E.B. Stuart
- Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Statue
- Jeff Davis Monument
One Confederate monument, the A.P. Hill Memorial, presents a unique challenge as the remains of Confederate General A.P. Hill are buried underneath the statue, located at the intersection of W. Laburnum Ave. and Hermitage Road.
McEachin’s request comes after a lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Richmond Circuit Court by an anonymous plaintiff, that aims to have an emergency injunction granted by a judge, which would prevent Stoney from removing additional Confederate statues.
An official in Stoney’s administration told 8News on Wednesday that the mayor has not been served and “will be more than prepared to successfully argue that position if a hearing is set.”
“Unless and until an injunction is granted,” the official said, “the work will continue.”