Richmond City Council supports Stoney’s proposal to remove Confederate statues

Richmond
J.E.B. Stuart Monument

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

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A proposal to remove Confederate statues from Monument Avenue is all but certain to be adopted in July, with every Richmond City Council member signaling their support just two days after the idea was floated.

On Wednesday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney shared his intention to introduce a city ordinance with City Councilman Michael Jones, the city’s 9th District representative, to remove the statues. Since then, two other council members have announced they will join as co-patrons on the ordinance as well.

The bill is expected to be introduced on July 1, the first day local governments have the authority to remove Confederate monuments.

“I appreciate the recommendations of the Monument Avenue Commission – those were the appropriate recommendations at the time,” Stoney said in a statement. “But times have changed, and removing these statues will allow the healing process to begin for so many Black Richmonders and Virginians. Richmond is no longer the Capital of the Confederacy – it is filled with diversity and love for all – and we need to demonstrate that.”

Jones told 8News after the proposal was made public Wednesday that three fellow council members — Council President Cynthia Newbille, Council Vice President Chris Hilbert and 5th District representative Stephanie Lynch — endorsed the proposed ordinance. In a statement to 8News, Hilbert said he would be a co-patron on the ordinance.

“We cannot and should not forget the lessons of racial injustice of 400 years of slavery and its legacy,” Hilbert wrote. “These statues are a part of our ugly past but they should not be part of our future.”

Following protests in Richmond in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Jones said that the effort to take down the monuments are for those who have struggled through racial injustice and the people out demonstrating in the city.

“This isn’t about me,” the councilman said in a phone conversation Wednesday with 8News.

8News learned Thursday that Councilwoman Ellen Robertson and Councilman Andreas Addison also support the proposal, with Addison tweeting that he has joined Stoney and Jones as a co-patron for the city ordinance.

“While the removal of these statues does not erase the systemic racism that remains in this country, these symbols have become idols of division,” Addison wrote. “Now is the time to bring Richmond together.” Robertson provided a statement to 8News on Friday about her thoughts.

“I sure hope we get serious about correcting injustice polices in voting rights, education, incarcerations, employment and housing,” she said. “These are live, current racist actions and policies which need to be address, for it is current actions and policies that kill and destroy the lives of African Americans, people of color and the poor.”

Councilwoman Kim Gray, who represents the city’s 2nd District, also released a statement Friday saying she supports the removal of all Confederate statues from Monument Avenue.

“I will support removal of these statues as long as a thoughtful and deliberative process is instituted to evaluate the expenses of removal and no funds are spent that would take resources away from critical public education and infrastructure needs,” Gray wrote.

The 8th District representative, Councilwoman Reva Trammell, expressed her support for the proposal on Friday as well, writing in a statement, “I want peace for our City. While many citizens support putting the Confederate statues in a museum, some oppose it. After giving this much thought, I will vote to take them down. I feel it is the right thing to do.”​

Councilwoman Kristen Larson, Richmond’s 4th District representative, told 8News that after receiving multiple calls and messages from her constituents that she has decided to join her colleagues and support the ordinance. Larson, the final council member to signal her support, had initially said that she was still evaluating her thoughts.

“After careful consideration, I will support the confederate statue removal when it comes before City Council in July,” Larson said in a statement.

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