Amid Lawsuits to Stop Them, Virginia City Votes to Sell Off Confederate Statue
Warner Todd Huston
At a February meeting, the progressive city council of Charlottesville, Virginia, voted to tear down two monuments erected almost 100 years ago to Confederate Generals Lee and Jackson and to erase all vestiges of the town’s Confederate heritage. Now, after lawsuits were filed to stop it, the city is looking to sell the statues off to the highest bidder.
After a series of contentious city town hall meetings where supporters of the region’s heritage and those wishing to whitewash history battled over the council’s decision, city officials decided not to back down from the initial decision to eliminate its historical parks.
The decision to remove the two statues and redesign Lee Park to eliminate General Robert E. Lee’s name was calculated at $300,000, according to the city. Likely the costs would be far higher.
By March, several organizations and 11 local citizens joined together to file a lawsuit against the city to stop the removal of the statues, according to The Cavalier Daily of the University of Virginia.
The plaintiffs, including the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. and the Monument Fund, Inc., cited a list of reasons for filing the lawsuit. Chief among those reasons is their contention that the city is in violation of a state law preventing alteration of such monuments.
According to state law, it is illegal for local officials to tear down memorials to war veterans.
But now the city thinks it has a solution to its breach of state law. If the city can sell the statues to some other city or park that will maintain the historical integrity of the statues, officials think that might satisfy state law, according to Newsplex.
Still, the local activists who want to eliminate all history they do not like find the move unsatisfactory.
“I believe this is one time when justice triumphs historic preservation,” Councilor Kristin Szakos said. “Just like I would agree to tear down a historic home that is a danger to a neighborhood, I believe we should now allow for the removal of a statue whose message is offensive and negative to a principle our community holds dear.”