Stoney asks city council to expedite removal of “racist symbols”

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Mayor Levar Stoney introduced a resolution to city council Wednesday calling for the removal of Richmond’s Confederate statues and requesting the process be expedited. Despite Stoney’s request for a unanimous vote, the council’s agenda did not include the motion to expedite the removal, so there was no vote.

“Madam President, it is time. Time to fully embrace the righteous cause. Time to get rid of racist symbols. Frankly, it’s time to heal,” Stoney said addressing Richmond City Council President Cynthia Newbille.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly granted local governments the power to decide the fate of Confederate statues starting July 1.

“We will replace these monuments with symbols that represent our city,” Mayor Stoney said.

During the virtual meeting with some city council members, Stoney said that failing to remove the statues is a threat to public safety. Councilwomen Ellen Roberston and Reva Trammell were not in attendance.

The mayor said he wants all city-owned monuments to be taken down immediately and put into storage while the city figures out what to do long term. Mayor Stoney told city council that his team is “ready to move today” on the removal of the statues.

“Remember council — Martin Luther King Jr. said never, never be afraid to do whats right,” Stoney said.

In order for the council to vote on the removal of the confederate monuments, the motion to expedite the removal of the statues requires at 24- hour notice and needs to be included in the council’s agenda.

“We took an oath to uphold the constitution, we are lawmakers. It is important to stand on legal rights. If our attorneys and legal team can look at it and prove it’s legal to expedite, I’m on board. I’m not in support of ignoring laws that we don’t like,” Councilwoman Kim Gray said.

Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch expressed her disappointment in not being able to vote at the meeting.

“I would like to make a motion to give an official vote of support,” Lynch said.

Mayor Stoney was asked by Councilwoman Kristen Larson about the costs of removal and where the funds will come from. Stoney responded saying that the funds would come from the Department of Public Works budget that began only July 1 for roughly $1.8 million.

Stoney said the city would be reimbursed because of the private philanthropic effort going on outside the city to cover the expense.

As the Director of Emergency Management, Mayor Stoney says that he must move to protect the property and well-being of city residents. And today, legislation went into effect giving the city the authority to decide what to do with monuments.

Richmond City Council said they would hold a special meeting Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. to vote on the resolution, however, it has since been canceled.

WATCH: Richmond Mayor Stoney orders immediate removal of Confederate monuments

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