Richmond City Council Moves to Rename Lee Memorial Bridge

Jun 23, 2020

After years of deliberation over Confederate icons, Richmond city council members voted last night to set the wheels in motion for the process of renaming the Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge.

Yesterday Richmonders voiced their concerns during an online comment period that lasted over 90 minutes and was mostly dedicated to condemnations of police violence and calls for reform.

Among those voices was Christopher Gayler, who said it’s not enough to rename the Lee bridge, which runs one of the city’s main thoroughfares across the James River.

A view of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge from underneath. The bridge spans across the James River.
Credit Ben Schumin / Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robert_E._Lee_Memorial_Bridge_from_underneath,_showing_footbridge.jpg

"Tonight we have one resolution to rename a bridge," he said. "What are you not understanding here? This will not be solved by token PR stunts or empty platitudes."

Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch co-sponsored the resolution

"This legislation simply just kicks off the community input process so that everybody can have some input about who we choose to memorialize in our institutions and our street names," Lynch explained.

As the meeting unfolded, a crowd gathered on the steps of City Hall to protest an official decision to close the grounds of a statue that’s become the epicenter of the state’s battle over Confederate memorials.

Though officially known as the Robert E. Lee monument, many locals are now calling the space Marcus-David Peters Circle, named for an unarmed Black man killed by a Richmond police officer in 2018.

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