Authorities in Richmond, Virginia, on July 1 began taking down a statue of Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson after Mayor Levar Stoney used emergency powers to order the removal of all Confederate statues and monuments in the city.
Stoney presented two reasons for the removals to the city council, the City of Richmond said, which he later outlined in a video statement.
“Failure to remove the statues now poses a severe, immediate, and growing threat to public safety,” Stoney said, citing the risk of protesters attempting to pull the statues down, confrontations among protesters, and coronavirus transmission. Stoney said his and the governor’s declarations of emergency in the city had authorized him, as mayor, to make the decision.
Additionally, Stoney said it was “past time” to remove the monuments, saying the city’s residents, in particular people of color, had been burdened with the legacy of Richmond as the capital of the Confederacy.
“These statues, although symbolic, have cast a shadow on the dreams of our children of color,” Stoney said. “By removing them, we can begin to heal and focus all our attention on our future.”
This video shows a crowd gathered by the statue on Monument Avenue. Credit: Steve Humble/VPM News via Storyful