This is a developing story.
The debate over whether Virginia’s monuments should be preserved in museums or preside over public streets just took a sharp turn. Both Democratic candidate for Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney released statements today signaling their support for the removal of Richmond’s Confederate statues.
In his statement, Northam said that as governor he would work with localities on the contentious issue over Confederate monuments, but ultimately concluded with, “I believe these statues should be taken down and moved into museums.”
Richmond’s Mayor Levar Stoney echoed a similar sentiment in a Facebook post only a short time ago, stating, “These monuments should be part of our dark past and not of our bright future. I personally believe they are offensive and need to be removed. But I believe more in the importance of dialogue and transparency by pursuing a responsible process to consider the full weight of this decision.” He concluded his post with, “Effective immediately, the Monument Avenue Commission will include an examination of the removal and/or relocation of some or all of the confederate statues.”
Support for the removal of Confederate monuments has reverberated throughout the South after last weekend’s domestic terrorist incident at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. This attack left counter-protestor Heather Heyer dead and 19 others wounded. Since then, there have been repeated calls for the removal of these monuments from public spaces including one from Norfolk’s Mayor Kenny Alexander today. This followed a Tuesday vote in Baltimore’s City Council where they unanimously agreed to remove their Confederate monuments. The work was carried out under the cover of darkness, finishing in the early hours of Wednesday morning – four in total were removed.
*Will McLeod and Landon Shroder contributed to this report.