confederate statues
October 28, 2020

A Virginia judge ruled late Tuesday that Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has the authority to remove a 60-foot-high statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue in Richmond, the state capital. The Lee statue is the only one left standing, after the other monuments were either removed, modified, or torn down. A group of Richmond residents had sued to stop Northam from removing the Lee statue in June, arguing that would "degrade" their neighborhood and lower their property values, NPR News reports. The plaintiffs are expected to appeal.

"We are one step closer to a more equitable and honest Virginia," Northam tweeted after the ruling was handed down. The statue of Lee, the top Confederate general in the Civil War, was erected in 1890; Richmond is the former capital of the Confederacy. Peter Weber

July 1, 2020

A statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson was removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday afternoon, with Mayor Levar Stoney (D) saying similar memorials will soon follow.

Hundreds of people gathered to watch as the statue came down, including Lattoria Mason, 42. Mason told The Washington Post she was glad Black voices "have been heard by other people who recognize what we meant when we said that these statues were painful. This is really healing. I wish my grandfather was here to see this."

Richmond is the former capital of the Confederacy, and there are five Confederate statues along Monument Avenue. Four of them are owned by the city, and Stoney used his emergency powers to have the Jackson statue removed, citing safety concerns. There have been daily protests on Monument Avenue since the death of George Floyd in late May, and people have tried to pull the statue down.

"I am the emergency management director," Stoney told the Post. "In that role, I'm responsible to protect life and property. We've had 33 consecutive days of protest and civil unrest, and public safety has to be the top priority."

Stoney spokesperson Jim Nolan said the other city-owned statues will be removed as quickly as possible. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) ordered that a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that is owned by the state also be taken down; this is being challenged in court. Catherine Garcia

March 6, 2019

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the University of Mississippi student government passed a resolution to move a statue honoring Confederate soldiers from the middle of campus.

The resolution was passed 47-0 and is now being circulated among university administrators. The United Daughters of the Confederacy donated the statue to the school in 1906, and the resolution calls for it to be moved to a cemetery on campus where Confederate soldiers are buried. Over the last several months, several Ole Miss students worked together to come up with the bill and get buy-in from campus organizations. The vote came about two weeks after pro-Confederate groups held a rally at Ole Miss. 

Senior Dalton Hull, chair of the Ole Miss College Republicans and a co-sponsor of the resolution, told NBC News his organization was basically split on the statue's fate. "It was a multicultural, bipartisan resolution that I think really supersedes all political issues," he said. "To me, this is not a political issue: This is about what's morally right and wrong."

Junior Leah Davis, who helped write the resolution, said she started crying when she knew the bill would pass. "It was really powerful to me the fact that the senate voted unanimously," she said. Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2018

Protesters tore down a statue of a Confederate soldier Monday night on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Silent Sam was erected in 1913, a gift from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In a statement, the university said there was a crowd of about 250 protesters, and a small group brought Silent Sam down, adding: "Tonight's actions were dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured. We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage." Gov. Roy Cooper's (D) official Twitter account posted a message saying he "understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities."

For years, students, alumni, and faculty members have been calling for the removal of the controversial statue. CBS News reports that recently, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith said "neither UNC-Chapel Hill nor the UNC system have the legal authority to unilaterally relocate the Silent Sam statue," and there was a meeting scheduled for Wednesday in the state Capitol to discuss the monument. Catherine Garcia

August 19, 2017

The administration of Duke University in North Carolina removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the entryway of its historic campus chapel Saturday morning. The limestone carving was one of 10 figures memorialized near the chapel door; its face was vandalized Wednesday amid controversy over the similar statues honoring Confederate figures that are displayed throughout much of the country, especially in the South.

"I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university," said the university president, Vincent Price, in a statement on the decision. "The removal also represents an opportunity for us to learn and heal."

The statue will not be destroyed, though Price did not say how it would be preserved, only that it would be used to help students "study Duke's complex past and take part in a more inclusive future."

North Carolina's Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has endorsed the removal of Confederate statues on public land in his state; as a private university, however, Duke is neither compelled by that encouragement nor constrained by a 2015 law limiting removal of the monuments. Bonnie Kristian

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