Efforts to Give Localities Choice Over Confederate Monuments Have Failed

Jan 31, 2018

Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

Lawmakers in Richmond say all those Confederate monuments in Virginia are staying where they are. Michael Pope is at the Capitol with the latest.

The racist rally in Charlottesville last year prompted a national discussion about Confederate monuments and what should happen to them. Many cities and counties in Virginia want to move statues honoring the Lost Cause. But Republicans are rejecting a bill introduced by Democratic House Leader David Toscano of Charlottesville that would have given local government the power to do that.

“I thought that the general conservative thinking around here would be that we should restore power to those who are best able to assess whether or not monuments should stay or go. But they didn’t think that way, and so now localities are stuck.”

Stuck with Confederate statutes and without the power to do anything about it. Republican Senator Richard Stuart of Westmoreland County says the monuments should stay.

“Perhaps we should put up a monument of a slave breaking free from the chains of bondage. But I don’t think we should be taking the other monuments down.”

Last week, Stuart gave a speech honoring Robert E. Lee — a speech that prompted Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to walk off the podium rather than preside over the Senate when a Confederate hero was being celebrated.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.