The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to return the Confederate statue in downtown Leesburg to the Loudoun Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).
n The vote
The board voted to affirm that the Confederate statue belongs to the UDC at Tuesday’s business meeting. UDC owns the monument located in front of the Loudoun County Courthouse on King Street. The vote was 9-0.
n What’s next
The board also authorized UDC to access the Loudoun County Courthouse grounds for the purpose of removing the Confederate statue by Sept. 7.
The action comes as more counties and cities across the country are taking steps to remove the statues in the wake of nationwide protests for racial equity and reform. While some say the statues are honoring their heritage and ancestry, many others believe the statues stand for white supremacy and institutional racism.
The Virginia General Assembly voted earlier this year to give localities the ability to remove, relocate or contextualize the monuments in their communities. The law went into effect July 1.
n More about the statue
The Leesburg statue, erected in 1908, rests in front of the Loudoun County Courthouse and can be seen at the corner of North King and East Market streets. It’s been commonly known as the “Silent Sentinel.”
Virginia is home to more than 200 public memorials to the Confederacy, according to state officials.
n The public’s take
Julia Holcomb: “Take the wretched thing down and get it off public property and do it at the UDC expense.”
Travis Sample: “Now I confess, I’ve always preferred facts and free and open debate to petty grievances, identity politics and cultural relativism. This ludicrous notion you have that a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier should be removed, because it’s symbolic of institutional racism and white slavery is just wrong.”
Sofia Saiyed: “I believe the statue should not be returned to the United Daughters of the Confederacy as that will give them an opportunity to simply move it to private property and withdraw discussion about recontextualization from the public sphere. Truly I do not believe that moving or recontextualizing is sufficient when it comes to these monuments. Instead, I believe that they should be removed entirely from public display, and then it should remain in the possession of the county.”
n The board’s take
Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large), who made the motion: “I take this vote in the name of thousands of Loudoun citizens, black citizens who never had a voice and sometimes didn’t have a vote. I don’t care what happens to this statue, as long as it never again sits on public property. After 16 years, yeah ... the arc of the moral universe in Loudoun County has been bent.”
Catoctin Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R), the only supervisor who vocally opposed moving the statue in a recent Times-Mirror survey: “If indeed this is the statue of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, then I think we have no other choice but then to adopt this motion. I think then we would face a legal battle otherwise. I will support the motion for that not because I would like to see the statue removed or any other statue. Now this is just one statue, [but] it’s much more the precedent that I am very concerned that we will be setting and that is anything that has some inkling of offensive history.”
Vice Chairman Koran Saines (D-Sterling): “Let’s not sugarcoat what the statue is about. Even if you personally may not find it offensive, keep it in mind, the courthouse serves citizens of all backgrounds — all who enter the courthouse grounds should feel welcome. We should not have a statue there that is offensive and insults the citizens of Loudoun.”
Blue Ridge Supervisor Tony Buffington (R): “I just worry where this goes. I have no problem supporting this motion. Obviously, the property owner asked ... we give it back, but hopefully, the board and will remain reasonable and we won’t overreact and start changing everything.”
Ashburn Supervisor Mike Turner (D): “I can think of no more offensive act than to erect an icon on the land owned by the people that specifically represents total lack of justice, total inequality and enslavement. And it just seems so obvious to me that this is so long overdue. 112 years ago, they erected this statue, and they erected it specifically on a place that would intimidate citizenry.”