Gov. Northam signs laws allowing confederate statue removal, repealing ‘racist’ language

Politics

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Ralph Northam signed new laws to repeal racially discriminatory language, and giving power for localities to control the status of Confederate monuments in their communities on Saturday.

The laws signed by Governor Northam repeal racist and discriminatory language from Virginia’s Acts of Assembly and gives localities the ability to remove or alter Confederate monuments. Gov. Northam is also beginning the process of replacing Virginia’s statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee residing in the United States Capitol.

“Racial discrimination is rooted in many of the choices we have made about who and what to honor, and in many of the laws that have historically governed this Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “These new laws make Virginia more equitable, just, and inclusive, and I am proud to sign them.”

Release by The Office of the Governor:

Senate Bill 183 and House Bill 1537, sponsored by Senator Mamie Locke and Delegate Delores McQuinn, respectively, overturn the Commonwealth’s prohibition on the removal of Confederate war memorials. Starting July 1, localities will have the ability to remove, relocate, or contextualize the monuments in their communities. Virginia is home to more than 220 public memorials to the Confederacy.

Senate Bill 612 and House Bill 1406, sponsored by Senator Louise Lucas and Delegate Jeion Ward, respectively, create a commission to recommend a replacement for the Robert E. Lee statue in the United States Capitol. To date, eight statues in the National Statuary Hall have been replaced, and seven additional states are working through a similar process to replace statues.

“These monuments tell a particular version of history that doesn’t include everyone,” Governor Northam said. “In Virginia, that version of history has been given prominence and authority for far too long.”

“Today marks an important step towards a more equitable and welcoming Commonwealth,” said Delegate Delores McQuinn. “Virginia’s history is difficult and complex, and it is important that we tell the full and true story of our past 400 years. These new laws will make our Commonwealth better, and I am grateful for the Governor’s leadership in signing them into law.”

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