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House and Senate Must Move Quickly to Hammer Out Differences in Monument Legislation

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AP Photo/Steve Helber, File
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As lawmakers finish out the General Assembly session this week, they are making final touches on an effort to allow local governments to remove Confederate statues.

Few issues in the General Assembly evoke quite as much emotion as Confederate monuments, and the debate over allowing local governments to remove them is getting personal.

Republican Senator Amanda Chase of Chesterfield County said lawmakers should think twice before allowing city councils and boards of supervisors to start removing statues.  “These are family members. These are brothers. These are sisters in which these memorials were erected," Chase said Wednesday. "We shouldn’t just tear them down just because there are some in this body that just the symbol of that person that evokes negative emotions.” 

Democratic Senator Mamie Locke of Hampton says the memory of her ancestors is exactly why those statues should be removed.   “That ancestor survived the horrors of slavery," Locke responded. "That ancestor survived the horrors of Jim Crow. That ancestor survived the horrors of segregation. That ancestor allowed me to survive the horrors of walking by those stupid monuments that have been erected for a lost cause.”

The debate now isn’t whether it’ll happen, but how many hoops the local government needs to go through. The Senate version has more requirements for the local government than the House version, and the two sides need to come to some kind of resolution quickly before it can go to the governor’s desk.

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