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City Planners Don't Endorse Monument Ave Pedestal Removal Plans

man waves BLM/Pride flag in foreground of statue removal
As construction crews removed the Stonewall Jackson statue, hundreds gathered for a spontaneous demonstration in support of removing Confederate statues. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated none of the plans were endorsed. This is incorrect. The story has been updated. In a second update, we corrected a line that said a decision on Jackon's pedestal was deferred; it was Maury's.

The City of Richmond Planning Commission considered temporary restoration plans for the former sites of Confederate monuments in a virtual meeting today. The plans call for the removal of pedestals that once held depictions of J. E. B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, and other Confederate figures.

The meeting was adjourned due to technical difficulties before all of the proposals could be addressed, leaving decisions on the sites of Matthew Maury's statue and one Confederate cannon for a later date. 

Only one of the plans - for the A. P. Hill monument - ended up receiving support from the commission. They cited the need to address a variety of factors, including Hill’s remains, which are buried under the pedestal.

Throughout the meeting, members of the commission and the general public expressed concern that the proposals were made without adequate community engagement.

Architectural historian Sarah Driggs said the reason the statues are down now is because protesters, many of them Richmond citizens, started taking them down on their own. But she doesn’t see the city engaging the people who took to the streets.

“Before we as a community can even process our thoughts, we’re going to erase these physical artifacts, the physical evidence of what happened,” Driggs said.

Also among those concerned was commission chair Rodney Poole, who was frustrated that the temporary plans were focused on interim, not final, actions.

“We don’t have a plan for Monument Avenue, and we haven’t heard from the public on Monument Avenue,” Poole said.

Lincoln Saunders, chief of staff for Mayor Levar Stoney’s office, said removing the pedestals would offer a clean slate to do long-term planning.

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.
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