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MORE: Loudoun chairwoman to ask General Assembly for greater discretion over Confederate monuments

The Confederate statue in the center of Leesburg, the county seat of Loudoun. Times-Mirror/Alex Erkiletian
Amid renewed calls to move the county’s Confederate soldier statue from the courthouse grounds, Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said Tuesday she plans to ask the General Assembly to give localities greater discretion over war monuments and memorials within their jurisdiction.

But the head of the local chapter of the NAACP says the county’s efforts to get a clear legal opinion from the commonwealth is a “cop out” and that Loudoun should make a final decision on its own.

“I think it’s a cop out for Loudoun County to try to go to the General Assembly when they know what the outcome is going to be,” said Phillip Thompson, president of the Loudoun County NAACP.

Randall’s announcement came three days after violent protests erupted in Charlottesville, drawing thousands of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and counter-protesters.

The protests were sparked by the city council voting earlier this year to remove the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, formerly called Lee Park. A group of residents later sued the city to keep the Confederate statue in place. A judge has since agreed to block its removal for several months as litigation proceeds.

The Confederate monument in downtown Leesburg has been the subject of controversy in recent years. A 2015 rally at the Leesburg statue brought out scores of Confederate monument supporters and opponents. Supporters waving Confederate flags stood in front of the statue to proclaim their cause.

Anti-monument voices say the statue is a symbol of racism and inequality that doesn't belong next to the courthouse, a place meant to usher in justice and equality. Monument supporters say it's a part of history that should remain in its place.

The weekend's gruesome, high-profile protests claimed the life of a 32-year-old woman, Heather D. Heyer, when 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. reportedly drove a car through a crowd of people. Dozens more were left seriously injured. Fields now faces charges for her death.

Hours after the car collision, two Virginia State Police troopers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, of Quinton, died in a helicopter crash while responding to scene shortly before 5 p.m.

"Our message is plain and simple: Go home," Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Saturday night in a news conference. "You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you are patriots, but are anything but a patriot ... you came here today to hurt people, and you did hurt people. But my message is clear: We are stronger than you ... There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America."

Randall said she intends to put an item in the county's legislative agenda asking the General Assembly for greater jurisdictional discretion over monuments and memorials.

However, she noted that in order for any item to go on the county’s legislative agenda, it would need to be approved by the full Board of Supervisors.

The chairwoman cited Virginia code 15.2-1812, which prohibits localities from removing, disturbing or interfering with any memorials or monuments for war veterans, as the reason why the board did not have the authority to relocate or remove its Confederate statue without the approval of General Assembly.

Thompson, who has for years pressed the county to move Confederate statue from the courthouse grounds to a different location, thinks Loudoun should look to a decision out of Danville, where a judge ruled that the state code did not apply to memorials built before 1998.

“This is going to continue to be a contentious issue that Leesburg needs to, at some point, show some leadership and address,” Thompson said. “Address it one way or the other, either make a decision you’re not going to move the statue and stop hiding behind some flawed legal interpretation, or make the decision that we are going to move the statue.”

Randall has said she believes the Confederate monument should be located somewhere other than on county property in the middle of Leesburg.

State Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D) told the Times-Mirror that although she hopes the events in Charlottesville will change the minds of her colleagues who supported a bill in 2016 that would have prevented localities from removing Civil War monuments, she is unsure how they will react this time around.

“We are talking about a state where, even after Sandy Hook, people wouldn’t agree to any commonsense firearm safety legislation, so I don’t know that a lot of folks in Richmond are necessarily going to be responsive to things that are happening even here in our own commonwealth,” Wexton said.

Since the protests in Charlottesville, several localities around the country have either removed or have reignited stalled efforts to move Confederate monuments from public grounds.

Overnight in Baltimore, the city quietly removed four Confederate statues. In North Carolina, protesters toppled over a Confederate statue in front of a county courthouse. In Kentucky, a mayor in Lexington said he plans to ask the city council to relocate two Confederate monuments from a historic courthouse.

Earlier this summer, Thompson announced he would request a clarification opinion from Loudoun County Attorney Leo Rogers on the legality of removing the county’s 109-year-old statue. At the time, Rogers told the Times-Mirror that in theory the board could vote on whether the Confederate statue should be removed from the courthouse grounds.

But Rogers noted that it would be up to the board to decide if the issue should go on its agenda for a vote.

Rogers also warned that such a move could create legal ramifications for the county because the board’s action could result in an outcome contrary to Virginia Code 15.2-1812.

Meanwhile, a "Save Our History" event in support of the Confederate monument in Leesburg, slated for Sept. 16 outside the Loudoun County Courthouse, was canceled in the wake of Charlottesville.

Patriot News, which was hosting the event along with 111% United Patriots, posted a statement on its Facebook page Aug. 11.

“We are canceling this event for now because it seems like the danger of the statue being removed is small and the point of the historical aspect is being lost. All and all the rally is hurting the cause more than helping it. We reached out to the NAACP and have gotten no response. We wouldn't let our event get co-opted by racist and we won't let it get co-opted by the left.”

Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk, who would not say whether she believes the statue should be moved, said, “I hope that any group who wants to bring hate knows they are not welcome in Leesburg.”

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.

Comments


It’s all about WHY we put up monuments to people, not about their darkest behaviours.


If I recall correctly, Loudoun voted for Obama twice.  You voted for “fundamental transformation of America”.  What did you think he meant?


Randall is acting as a lone citizen.  She has no authority to speak for the County without four more votes from the BOS.  Everyone should now write Richmond and ask them to protect us from Randall.  How much local authority is she willing to give up to the Town’s now that she is seeking new found local freedoms!


I think the simple solution is leave the monuments in place, but to lop off the heads.

Then the statue becomes a a clear demonstration that what these people espoused and fought for did not result in their glorification by a statue in their image.  Certainly would be a conversation starter, but also a clear signal that America does not tolerate symbols that do not represent what we are about today.


looking outside our own “history” to lee’s own ideas-

“President Trump may see the statues commemorating the Confederacy and Robert E. Lee as things of “beauty” that will be “greatly missed.” But Lee himself did not share the sentiment. To him, they would only “keep open the sores of war” and the ill will war engendered, which he thought should be consigned to “oblivion.””

““My conviction is,” Lee wrote, “that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; & of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour.””

“Lee thought it better to tend to the graves of the fallen. “All I think that can now be done, is to aid our noble & generous women in their efforts to protect the graves & mark the last resting places of those who have fallen, & wait for better times.””

“Lee, Horn said, “believed countries that erased visible signs of civil war recovered from conflicts quicker. He was worried that by keeping these symbols alive, it would keep the divisions alive.”” fredbarbash, washingtonpost


What has Chairman Randall got to lose? She knows she’s a probable one-termer who got in on a fluke thanks to two Republican candidates who beat the daylights out of each other. I’m surprised that Don Quixote hasn’t taken further advantage of this by chasing even more windmills during her term, than she has thus far.


Let’s not stop with with statues and monuments to Confederate soldiers, since “they” were obviously all pro-slavery. Let take down the Washington Monument stone by stone and demolish the Jefferson Memorial; burn down Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier, James Madison’s home.
BTW way, we should probably re-name Washington, DC to something more politically correct.
Let’s start burning books too and really act like fascists and socialists.
Our history is what it is. Embrace it, not hide it.


Ain’t this just like Chairperson Randall denying free speech has become a habit. First it was Virginia usp who won in court against her then she shut down public comment at a Transportation Summit the one and only time public comment was not allowed as they jammed the bridge vote through and now she wants to discretion to remove monuments, this is a very un-Christian woman.


JeanneT asks “when will this end?”

It’s up to people like JeanneT and me.  The fight over Confederate monuments is a proxy for a fight over who this country is for.  Only White America can end this fight…since we started it.

The statues?  They’re a legacy of the myth-making that swirled across the Jim Crow South.  I grew up in South Carolina and well remember the “Hell No, I Ain’t Forgettin’ license plates as well as the separate bathrooms and water fountains. 

These statues are not where our history resides.  Removing them will change not a second of what happened all those years ago.

In the myths, a figure like Robert E. Lee was transformed from the disgraced general of a brutal effort to expand an empire built on slave labor to the glorious figure represented in monuments like the one in Charlottesville, a valiant leader in a fight for independence.

Do we really want to say we’re still OK with that?


When will it all end? Why don’t we start by calling out the bigoted commenter who refers to other human beings as “vermin”? Why should we tolerate that?


You know, the county is named after Lord Loudoun—a member of the British Army.  I’m starting to be really really upset about it.

The Colony’s fought and died at the hands of the British!  This must not stand.  We need to change the name of the County, it is truly offensive to some.

Maybe we can it to something we can all with?  Like Bickering County.


Leave the monuments alone.


I am just wondering where this will end??  There are “Groups” that are offended by the Bible, the pledge of allegiance and hey maybe even the music playing on hold or in the elevator.  As Americans we try in every way to be considerate of others.  Today, it seems that we are now Ruled by Special Interest Groups that carry their feelings on there shoulders and need all the attention. They only have one resolution…tear it down, rename it.  I sincerely believe this will not stop until there is no history of the United States.


More politically correct drivel from another carpetbagger. Same crap from our carpetbagging governor.


Just cover it up with a large tarp with peace signs and smiley faces and all the issues in Virginia will go away. Surround it with motion cameras so all the trespassers who try to remove the tarp can be identified and removed from healthy society. Now how about we get back to issues that really affect Loudoun - remove the Composite index, return the parking lot land surrounding Dulles Airport back to Loudoun from the federal government, make VDOT at least do its minimum to take care of roads IT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR and fix the commutation intensive traffic problems.
Bob O__ Esq.


I would like to ask everyone out there, when is enough is enough?  I am born and raised in Virginia and history is part of everyone’s life including past, present & future.  WHY is everyone always trying to CHANGE and DAMAGE a past that has CREATED YOUR future?  I am soooo tied and disgusted with so many people DEMANDING that America BOW AND CHANGE the history and culture of the US to THEIR PARTICULAR VIEWS.

I have views, concerns and opinions about a lot of culture, politics and life, BUT I don’t DEMAND OR PUSH my views on anyone.

SO ONCE AGAIN I ASK, what EXACTLY has this statue and history personally done to YOU??????


Is Randall going to censure Umstadtt for having a unlawful gathering on the court house grounds, Sunday?


FromHereNotAComeHere And Randall are part of the same hypocrisy. If it weren’t tragic it would be hilarious.


Cult of the Lost Cause.


There are thousands of statues and monuments through out this country.
The question of removal of these statues should be given to the voters of each county/state.


Very well said, FromHereNotAComeHere!


Chair Randall just sounded the dog whistle for the violent left to come to Leesburg to shout down, spray mace, and use intimidation and violence to remove this statue. I hope Sheriff Chapman has the spine to stand up to these Alt Left fascist thugs when they come.


I’m in favor of moving statutes, along with removing names from schools and government buildings.  However, I think it should only be done with private funds and not tax dollars. I don’t think people fully understand the cost involved in these projects and that money that I believe would be better spent on education and other programs to help those in need.


Very good idea. 

In 1908 a group of old South bigots erected a statue glorifying the defeated Confederacy and its heritage of slave labor camps.  Why on earth should today’s Loudoun citizens not have a say in whether we keep that symbol on the courthouse grounds or move it to some other spot (or melt it down for that matter).

It’s not a question of erasing history.  History exists and it’s there for anyone who takes the trouble to read.

We’re talking about removing a symbol that’s dear only to those who have nostalgia for the Old South, JIm Crow and the legacy of slavery.  That thing has no business standing outside a building where *all* Loudoun’s citizens go expecting justice.


Tell Tag Greason you oppose the Loudoun BoS having any power to do anything with our monuments.


Randall and the NAACP simply cannot see the forest for the trees: that if the Leesburg memorial is removed, it will somehow magically fix the problems in the Black community. Who would have ever guessed that a hundred year-old statue in front of a courthouse that is hardly used (if at all) is to blame for the short-comings of Black Americans in Loudoun County?  (Confederate statues in New Orleans were removed back in May, things looking any better yet? 109 murders YTD and counting…)

I remember awhile back when liberals tried to rid the Confederate emblem from Mississippi’s state flag; they asked the local Black communities their opinion and those Black folks just said all they really cared about was earning a living and taking care of their families (like most normal people in America): the state flag wasn’t a determinant to their well-being. Needless to say, the referendum failed. 

If they’re so concerned, instead of holding signs on the courthouse lawn, how about Randall, the local Democrats and the local NAACP stop virtue signaling and actually DO something that will help the Black community in Loudoun County?

In reality though, after all the Confederate monuments are torn down, roads renamed, battlefields paved over, after the Jefferson Memorial is pulled down and the Washington Monument is imploded, after Mount Rushmore is permanently defaced, after Mount Vernon, Montpelier and Monticello are looted and burned to the ground, who or what will be the next boogeyman that the Left can pin all their problems on? Whose culture will be forever maligned and relegated to the trash bin of history?


Hope the Chairperson does not condone vigilantes to come in and rip the statue down.

We have laws and following them is just as important as working to change them.

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