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No More Debate: Alexandria Confederate Monument Now Gone

Michael Pope

Confederate statues across the country have long been targets for protesters. But one Confederate monument in Alexandria is no longer a problem because it’s not there.

The Confederate monument in Alexandria is kind of a different story than all the other ones across Virginia. It was owned not by the city but by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and it was protected by a state law passed in 1890 that prevented anyone from moving it. So when the UDC decided to break the law and remove the monument this week, the city provided traffic control.

“This is not an event that just occurred because of the moment we’re in," explains Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. "This is something that’s been a long time coming.”

Alexandria City Council members voted unanimously back in 2016 to remove the statue. But they had no authority to do that — even though the statue was on city-owned land — because of that 1890 law. Earlier this year, Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill to repeal the old law, a repeal that becomes official next month.

Councilman John Taylor Chapman says no one is really all that concerned that the United Daughters of the Confederacy jumped the gun and broke the law.

“That’s what they chose to do. They knew it was coming down, so I think they decided to use the opportunity to move it out," he says. "The city was not going to fight them on that.”

The monument was at the center of a prominent intersection, and city leaders say they’ll probably end up paving over that spot with a field of asphalt.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.