Virginia has more than 220 confederate monuments, but a group hoping to take them down rallied in Charlottesville Monday night – calling on the General Assembly to allow local control of those statues.
Former city councilor Wes Bellamy appeared at the rally, holding a three-month-old baby. “I’m just coming off vacation, so I’m not solo," he explained in introducing his daughter Stokely. "This is her first action,” he joked.
She and her dad object to a state law reserving control of war memorials to the legislature. Bellamy urged lawmakers to give cities and counties control over what he called racist monuments in our communities.
“The time for those statues to move was yesteryear, and we have the opportunity to do so right now!" Bellamy said. " If you can’t have the courage to do it for yourself, do it for my daughter. Do it for your children. Do it for your grandchildren.”
Former councilor Kristin Szakos agreed, noting the statues were a statement of white supremacy. “These monuments were put up not right after the Civil War but in the late teens and 1920’s as southern states dismantled the civil rights progress made during reconstruction and engaged in widespread voter suppression, Jim Crow legislation and lynchings." she explained. "They were part of the message of the times – that white supremacy still reigned in the South, and that these warriors had fought for a just cause.”
Retiring Delegate David Toscano tried twice to change the law – and failed. His successor – Sally Hudson – is predicting her bill will pass, and the governor has said he’ll sign it. “It’s a whole new day in Richmond with Democrats in the majority,” she told RadioIQ.
Supporters have chartered buses to take residents to Richmond on day one of the legislative session to join a new coalition – Monumental Justice Virginia – in demanding this city be allowed to remove statues of Civil War generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from public parks.