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After July 1, Localities Can Remove Confederate Statues

Protesters with signs in front of a Confederate statue
A 2017 rally against Confederate statues. (File Photo: Hawes Spencer/VPM News)

One of the bills signed by Gov. Ralph Northam over the weekend gives localities the authority to remove, relocate or add context to Confederate statues. This comes four years after a citizen petition and a newly-minted Charlottesville city councilor began raising the issue.

When Councilor Wes Bellamy called for the removal of the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues, he says many said it would never happen.

"'This is Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, go work on something else, you’re destroying the community,'" he says, imitating his critics.

Since then, there have been growing calls to address the more than 200 Confederate memorials across the state, which many say are a painful symbol of slavery and racism. Bellamy says, "For the commonwealth, it means that we are moving in the right direction. It means that we are moving from a state that's only known for the Confederacy, only known for the Unite the Right rally, only known for blackface. But we got this one right."

Local governments can begin the process of considering the future of Confederate monuments in their communities after the law takes effect July 1.

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