Leesburg | Confederate monument Leesburg 1

The Confederate monument in downtown Leesburg in January 2020.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Local Virginia governments may soon have the power to remove Confederate monuments in their public spaces under legislation approved Tuesday by state lawmakers.

Since a violent 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Republican lawmakers had rejected renewed calls to amend a war memorials law to allow the controversial statues to come down. But the GOP in November lost full control of the General Assembly, giving Democrats an opportunity to target the statues that critics say distastefully glorify Virginia's history as a slaveholding state.

On Tuesday, largely along party lines, the Democrat-led House and Senate passed measures that would give cities and counties the autonomy to "remove, relocate, contextualize, cover or alter” the monuments in their public spaces.

Del. Delores McQuinn, a Democrat from Richmond who sponsored the House bill, said it would let local communities decide for themselves “how they want to memorialize history, whether it's right in your face or they want to memorialize it in another way.”

Del. Jay Jones, who is black, said in a speech Monday that many of the monuments were erected in the 20th century, decades after the Civil War had ended and during the “throes of Jim Crow." He said people in Norfolk, his district, overwhelmingly want a “Johnny Reb” statue removed from a downtown square.

“Every time I drive past it — which is every day to get to my law office — my heart breaks a little bit,” he said.

The measures' opponents, who compare removing Confederate monuments to erasing history, have raised concerns that the legislation could lead to a push to take down memorials to other controversial conflicts, such as the Vietnam War.

“I do not believe this will end well," said Republican Del. Charles Poindexter, who added that the bill sent a “tough message” to every veteran or dead veteran's family.

Each chamber advanced different versions of the legislation. The House and Senate may next conform the language of the bills to match or advance them to a conference committee that will work out the differences.

The Senate's bill imposes several hurdles not included in the House version that a local government must take before removing a monument. Under the measure, local leaders must first pass a resolution stating its intention to remove the monument, then request a report from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources with background about the person depicted and the circumstances under which the monument was established.

The locality would then have to make that report public and then hold a public hearing before it could vote. A decision to remove a monument would require a 2/3 vote or could be sent to voters for a referendum.

Under both the House and Senate bills, the locality would have to offer the monument to a “museum, historical society, government, or military battlefield” for a period of 30 days, though both measures say the local government has the “sole authority” to determine its final disposition.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said at the start of this year's legislative session that he supports lifting the existing prohibition on the removal of Confederate war memorials. He also said he backs a measure advancing through both chambers that lays out a process for removing a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that Virginia contributed to the U.S. Capitol grounds.

That legislation, which establishes a commission that would recommend a prominent Virginian who could replace Lee as one of the state's two contributions in the National Statuary Hall Collection, passed the Senate on Monday and the House on Tuesday.

After the 2017 white supremacist rally, which was convened in part to protest Charlottesville's attempt to remove a statue of Lee from a downtown park, many places around the country quickly started taking Confederate monuments down. The event descended into chaos and a white supremacist plowed his car into a crowd, killing a woman and injuring dozens more.

But in Virginia, a state that was home to two Confederate capitals, localities were hamstrung by the existing law.

Charlottesville, which later also sought to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, has been fighting the issue in court. A judge prevented the city from even covering the Lee statue with tarps amid the litigation.

Charlottesville is encouraged by the progress on the legislation, city spokesman Brian Wheeler said.

“Should legislation be signed by the Governor, the City will identify the procedural steps it needs to complete in order to remove the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from its public parks," Wheeler wrote in an email.

Other city governments that have signaled their intent to remove a Confederate monument include Alexandria, Portsmouth and Norfolk, which voted to move the “Johnny Reb” statue to a cemetery and has also sued over the law. In Richmond, where a commission convened by the mayor recommended removing one of five Confederate statues along the city's famed Monument Avenue, the City Council passed a resolution last month asking the General Assembly for local control.

One of those five statues, a soaring tribute to Lee, is state property. Northam has said there's an “ongoing discussion” about that statue's future, though his office has declined to answer further questions.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(57) comments

bluedog20175

In literally the dumbest activity the Loudoun Council is undertaking, they are waiting with baited breath to remove the Confederate soldier monument put up in 1906 by the Daughters of the Confederacy to remember soldiers from Loudoun who fought in the War of Northern Aggression, commonly known as the Civil War.

From the attached article, one argument by a council member is that the monument was put up "during the throes of Jim Crow." While factually true, one did not cause the other. In the early 20th Century, the veterans of the war were getting older and many organizations were establishing monuments before the veterans were all gone. That it happened at the same time as Jim Crow was in swing is like saying the monument in Leesburg caused the San Francisco earthquake, which also happened in 1906. There is no evidence that the monument was racist in nature or put there to be suppressive to a portion of the population.

In the same editorial section was an item by the head of the Ball's Bluff Association talking about the great education programs they provide. Based on the attempt by the Loudoun Council to pander to the "woke" population, I am waiting for the day when the battlefield will have to be closed and plowed under for new homes once the "woke" find there are memorials to Confederate soldiers in that park.

History is what it is. Leave it alone.

amerigirl

The stupidest thing Loudoun ever did was to put that statue there in the first place. It does not reflect lives lost on both sides I, only confederates. They were traitors to our country. The south supported slavery. It is an insult to black Loudouner’s.

Jeanne T

"You seem to have a real hatred for Stevens, even more than for me, (shock, shock) Why?"

Hate is strong word, amerigirl. And I know for a fact that you don't possess the ability to know what is in my heart or in the hearts of others, nor I yours. Unless I actually tell you in so many words that I "hate" you, you can't prove it. There is only one judge of mens' hearts, and it isn't you.

Jesus equated hate in the heart with murder (Matthew 5:21-24). (He judges our thoughts). Now think about that for a moment. And unlike you or me, He actually does have the ability to see into the heart of man and discern a person's thoughts. And one day, He will not only judge our outward actions, He will also judge the secret thoughts we hide.

amerigirl

No, I possess no ability to know what is in your heart, which is why I said “seem”. Do you really think that hate has to be proven with words? Dd you see how fast and furiously you jumped at his comments? I never said I judge what is in someone’s heart, I judge how I feel they have treated me or someone else. I can feel the coldness come right through the screen on some of your comments. People know how they feel when they are treated certain ways.

Please don’t lecture me on Jesus, I am Atheist so it really doesn’t mean anything to me. You don't have to be Jesus to see into some peoples hearts.

LoudounWatchdog

what nobody wants to talk about is the cost of moving a statue. It cost New Orleans $2.1 million to remove 4 monuments, the cost estimate for moving the Lee and Jackson monumnets in Charlotesville is $700,000. And then, there is the potential for the white supremacists to rally in Leesburg and create a nuclear reaction by ANTIFA. But if Loudoun has another Heather Heier death on its hands, you can be sure this paper will sanitize it and not hold Randall, Umstattd and other anti-monument supervisors responsible for the ordeal

amerigirl

Do you really think the cost of moving that statue would be that much? If they donate it there is a good chance that the receiver will pay for that cost. Man, just throw the thing in the back of a pickup and move it to a cemetery where southern soldiers are buried. The cost in New Orleans was split almost evenly between private donations and tax dollars, but the bulk of it went to cover additional security as threats began pouring in against contractors and city workers. So if it is moved without a bunch of civil war nuts threatening people it would cost next to nothing. When worried about the far-right fringe and white supremacists coming then I would say the sooner the better. Get these symbols of hate out of Loudoun. You paranoia is unfounded when it comes to ANTIFA, they won’t be carrying all their weapons, wearing camo, carrying shields an weapons, that is just a bunch of crap spread by the right, and people like Tom Deweese who like to create conspiracy theories

Segeny

Having grown up in Boston, I don't have a cat in this fight. BUT I did have a major in ACTUAL history, reading primary-sourced material and so DO have an educated opinion. It's way past time for some of these commenters to learn REAL history instead of the carefully edited version provided by the far-left moronic sources. But perhaps that is asking too much of the soaked-in-revisionist-history snowflakes

Matthew

Refreshing comment Segeny. Laughable how people are "experts" on foreign policy, change hats to become "experts" on US history, and then evolve into "experts" on world economics simply by clicking on a different link to an article.

amerigirl

Who is claiming to be an expert? Most posters here are intelligent enough to use google and other search engines before they make stupid statements.

Matthew

Lol, see my point!

Jeanne T

Matthew, what you cite is exactly the type of sloppy work my sister encounters at the college where she teaches in NY. The students (undergrads) think "research" is simply citing articles they've read online and they are genuinely surprised to learn that their work doesn't rise to the level of true research. And it's almost impossible to explain to them why their papers don't deserve a good grade. They really don't understand, they make up excuses, and they're offended. Sadly, this is a reflection on the poor education they are getting before they get to college.

amerigirl

I guess you think because people are capable of reading that they think they are experts? Hoe do you get your info, the gossip line, daily caller?

amerigirl

Maybe you should crack open a history book. If you don't have access to books on the subject the History Channel has very good articles about it online.Name calling? aren't you cute?

Jeanne T

Thank you for sharing your background and for your comment on the importance of primary-sourced material vs. relying on "Google" or other internet search engines. That's the lazy way out and it isn't true research or scholarship. My sister, who is a professor at a State college in NY, is always encountering this problem with students who do not know how to do research and who are, frankly, too lazy to do so or have no real interest in learning. Most of them shouldn't even be there in the first place, but that's another topic. She did her doctoral work at the University of Michigan, as she says. a true research school, and at a time when there was no internet.

Growing up in Boston must have left a deep impression on you with regard to American history. No one needs to lecture you about reading books! Like you, I did not grow up in the South; I was born in Wisconsin, raised in Minnesota. Federal work brought me to Virginia many years ago.

Rocket

Seriously folks, if this article had not been written I am guessing, one, may two posters would have even noticed the statues were removed had that action been taken. I would even venture to say, one of those people is the kind of person always looking out from behind there curtain waiting for someone to do something wrong to come out screaming.

Anyway, everyone calm down, history is not being erased and history is not being changed. It is so obvious what these statues were erected for. Throw them in one of those big metal melting thingys and make something useful out of it. Plant a tree there instead. Just because it is old, does not mean it has value.

BobOhneiserEsq

The Confederate soldier needs to have an equal Union soldier facing him so it is truly representative of history in this area evidenced by the Union Cemetery just up the street from the courthouse. Wouldn't it be more justified to complete the picture instead instead of these pandering positions? How about changing the names of all the LCPS schools that are named after farms that used slaves? How about doing something REAL like stop busing the poor kids from Plaza street to multiple schools away from the one they could walk to in downtown Leesburg? How many parents used the "my kid can walk to school so they should go to it" argument yet accept that the poorest in Leesburg have that argument IGNORED as they cry about a 100 year old statue? Wasn't there a democrat on the school board "representing" Leesburg? :-)

Well Water Person

The Carpetbaggers are now changing and denying history. What's next closing down Mount Vernon and Stratford Hall because these plantations had slaves?

And what/who will replace Robert E. Lee in the US Capitol, Nat Turner, a mass murderer. Fitting for who now represents us in the General Assembly and Senate.

Pete

And the term racist is misused, a racist is one who exposes their superiority over another by virtue of their race. That is the traditional definition, not the snowflake amended versions of today. I have never heard anyone today say that expect for white supremist. One may be a bigot, uncouth, uncivilized or cruel, mean, but calling everything and everyone a racist just doesn't hold water

RandomName2019

The false equivocation and outrage are just flowing in here. Removing a statue is not "erasing" history. Recognizing that most of these were erected as part of the Jim Crow movement is not "erasing" history. Removing monuments to individuals who revolted against the United States is not "erasing" history.

Continuing to revere these monuments, absent any context, is "erasing" history. Repeating the falsehoods of the Lost Cause is "erasing" history.

Saw a bumper sticker during the morning commute: "Stop Pretending Your Racism is Patriotism" ... guess we could expand it to "Stop Pretending Your Racism is Love of History"

Jeanne T

Another virtue signaler.

Pete

If so incensed about a statute, then surely must be against the democratic party, which was NOT the party of emancipation, and enacted and enforced ALL the Jim Crow laws in the south and sentenced minorities to another 100 years of oppression. They still do it today with handouts and housing instead of whips and chains. That means if you support democrats, you support the party of Jim Crow, and support the party that erected those statues. And they did not revolt, that was the revolution. And the civil war was about more than slavery as any student of the period knows. Then again, we can just remove ALL references to civil war, good and bad, but fact remains it was the 2d most important event in nations history, and only the rich officers owned slaves (perfectly legal at the time), the rank and file were forced to enlist of face punishment, and they did not identify with the nation, but with their state. And funnily enough, it was those same democrats voting to secede. Black Americans should wear the stars and bars like a war trophy because with out that civil war, slavery might still be a thing, and that war was what did free the slaves. A centuries old case of Stockholm syndrome for sure

amerigirl

Pete, do you realize that the republics and the Democrats switched party platforms and ideologies? You might have said that if it were today it would have been Republicans

hardworkingamerican

Amen Loudoun4Trump, no one could have said it any better. Hypocrisy is the cry of the Social Communist Democratic Party and obviously no laws apply to them. Vote RED in November, Remove Every Democrat! Take the House back and turn VA RED for life.

RandomName2019

Yeah, that's not going to happen. If you look at trends across the country, an increase in population, education, and income naturally turn areas to blue.

amerigirl

HAHAHAHAHAHAH dreamer.

Duncan Idaho

Put them in museums, not in the public square. Statues are meant to honor heroes.

AFF

You can't erase history- these statues will soon have a new home, becoming a part of their history.

Chris McHale

That's great, now who will pay for any of this?

Stevens R. Miller

Where do I donate?

Jeanne T

Why not donate to renaming Harry Flood Byrd Highway, Stevens? Or are you only interested in monuments because it's the trendy thing?

amerigirl

Jeanne, it's a trendy thing?? not at all, this has been going on for a long long time. Besides they were traitors to the US. Most Dems would agree with you when it comes to taking recognition away from Byrd. You seem to have a real hatred for Stevens, even more than for me, (shock, shock) Why?

Doug Glatt

As long as public funds are not used for the relocation.

Jeanne T

I agree. The costs of removal and relocation should be paid for by those who want it removed.

amerigirl

Jeanne, everyones tax payer dollars will pay for the removal of things that shouldn't have been here in the first place. I guess if they decide to renovate a building you would think that only the tax payers that wanted it renovated should pay for it? Who is paying to maintain it right now? If I think like you they should refund me all the maintenance dollars they have spent on these statues of traitors.

LoudounPulse

So when will we be removing Mount Vernon (home of a slave owner)? Time to level the Oatlands Plantation where people were enslaved to work the land. Does White's Ferry still say Jeb Early (Confederate General)? Maybe we should block it from Virginia shores until it removes that name. US Route 50 is named "John Mosby Highway", another Confederate General. Should it be renamed?

This is Virginia. Confederate and Colonial history is all around us and with it comes the stain of slavery woven throughout. I don't understand how somebody can be anti-confederate statue while at the same time enjoying a day at Mount Vernon, enjoying the view from a rocking chair, knowing they are at the home of a man who enslaved over 100 people to work his property. Not sure how you square that circle.

RandomName2019

Please, stop with the false equivocation. Simply holding slaves, at a time when it was legal to do so, can be considered morally reprehensible without also reducing or eliminating their overall contributions to our society. Most memorials to our founders include a note regarding their participation in the slave trade. However, as the founders of our nation, we're rightfully proud of their positive contributions. On the other hand, Confederate history is, because they lost, one of traitors. You don't put up monuments to traitors. You don't sugar coat their motivations. You don't pretend that the CSA existed for any other reason that the one put forth in their secession documents and enshrined in their constitution; to continue the legal right to hold slaves. The vast majority of monuments that were erected were put up as a refutation of recognition of equality for blacks. If you want to keep them up, then start by accepting why they exist at all.

jke

Read some history instead of just democrat talking points.

RandomName2019

Read some history? You mean like the civil war secession documents? Guess, which of these statements contained references to slavery? Georgia's, Mississippi's, South Carolina's, Texas, Virginia's, Florida's, Alabama's... The only ones that didn't were Louisiana, Tennessee and North Carolina. That didn't stop them from signing right up with the CSA though, which enshrined in their constitution that slavery would be allowed to continue. Robert Hardy Smith even went so far as to give a speech explaining that the state of Alabama declared its secession from the U.S. in order to preserve and perpetuate the practice of slavery... The CSA VP, Stephens, said in his Cornerstone Speech that the Confederate constitution was "decidedly better than" the American one, as it "put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution. African slavery as it exists amongst us; the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization...

amerigirl

Slavery is not legal now but it was then. Such a outre talking point.

Stevens R. Miller

Thank God.

These crummy tin dolls are just "No Trespassing" signs for people of color seeking justice in the halls of government.

They were slapped together by white men afraid of a fulsome world. Now, Virginia can put them away, and add to a world filled with the beauty of us all.

Jeanne T

Virtue signaling much, Stevens?

amerigirl

At least he has morals.

MAGAHAHAhahahaha

Elections have consequences

Jeanne T

Elections have consequences. See? I can play that game just like you.

Matthew

Don't feed to trolls Jeanne, their narcissistic nature thrives on the response.

workhardgetahead

Virginia, once the gem of the south, now is the port o potty of the south because of democrats.

amerigirl

Tin hat time

workhardgetahead

Name one major city run by Democrats that isnt a cesspool?

amerigirl

Work, first what does cities run by dems have to do with this article? again

Not to mention that cities run by Democrats tend to be much bigger than cities run by Republicans, so this is an apples to oranges comparison. You are just looking for something to rant about. And you should check things out before you ask dumb questions. Quick answer, Santa Clara CA. Orange CA, and the safest city in America can be added to that list with Alexandria, VA.

[offtopic]

LoudounClear

Long overdue.

Loudoun4Trump

lets start with the racist Harry Byrd, LBJ, FDR, Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Jackson, Jefferson, etc....these racist democrat leaders should not have buildings, bridges, roads, or anything named after them...lets get rid of any trace of racist democrat leaders....and no statue or trace of klansman Northum and blackface Herring should be anywhere near the VA state capital....

LoudounClear

You should erect a monument of that strawman ...

Duncan Idaho

You mad bro?

EvilHomer

Finally! Way past time to get rid of these memorials to racist traitors.

Segeny

It's way past time for you to learn REAL history instead of the carefully edited version provided by your far-left moronic sources. But perhaps that is asking too much of the soaked-in-revisionist-history homers.

amerigirl

Oh Please. History belongs in books and museums. So look at real history and you will find that most of these statues were mass produced during the Jim Crow era and given as gifts by groups like the DAR to promote their racist southern agenda.

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