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Richmond Officials Want More Control Over The Fate Of Confederate Monuments

The Jefferson Davis statue on Richmond's Monument Avenue.
The Jefferson Davis statue on Richmond's Monument Avenue. (Craig Carper/VPM)

Richmond City Council voted Monday night to ask the state for more control over the city’s Confederate monuments.

It was the third time the city council debated the issue. Two similar resolutions had failed twice before. Under current Virginia law, localities are barred from taking down or modifying any war memorials including Confederate monuments. State lawmakers are expected to vote on repealing that law when the General Assembly session begins this week. 

Ninth District Councilman Michael Jones introduced the resolution. He said the resolution sends a message to state lawmakers that Richmond’s local officials want to make the decision for themselves.

“It’s not about tearing down statues, it’s not about erasing or changing history,” Jones said. “That’s not what this is about. It’s about us, as legislators, doing what we were elected to do.”

At Monday’s special meeting only two people spoke in opposition, neither of whom were Richmond residents.

Wendy Hazlett, a Hampton resident that says she is the great-great-granddaughter of a Confederate soldier, defended the statues to Confederate leaders that line Monument Avenue.

“They have no right to tell us that we can’t discuss, acknowledge or let our history be seen in public,” Hazlett said.

The resolution was approved by the Richmond City Council in a 6-2 vote, with Councilwomen Kristen Larson and Reva Trammell voting against. It does not include any plans to take down statues.

The resolution comes more than a year after the Monument Avenue Commission, created by Mayor Levar Stoney, issued its recommendations for how the city should handle its existing Confederate statues. Only one statue, the monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, was recommended for removal.

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