RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Flaggers responded to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s announcement Thursday of a commission to help the city redefine what he called “the false narrative” of the Confederate statues that line Monument Avenue – a considered a historic landmark by the National Park Service.
The Virginia Flaggers, a Confederate heritage group, released a statement expressing their disappointment, and which declared -- in part -- that Stoney has made “war against the Confederate monuments” and the veterans honored by the statues.
The Flaggers said their removal would create “division and disharmony in our community.”
The mayor did not call for the removal of the Confederate monuments, he suggested new signage to help add context and tell a complete story around them.
"It is my belief that without telling the whole story, these monuments have become a default endorsement of that shameful period – one that does a disservice to the principles of racial equality, tolerance and unity we celebrate as values in One Richmond today," he said.
He also said the city would explore adding new statues to Monument Avenue -- a National Historic Landmark.
Stoney said that commission would be made up of “experts in history, art, government culture, as well as community leaders.” His commission is led by American Civil War Museum CEO Christy Coleman and Library of Virginia Director of Education and Outreach Gregg Kimball.
The Flaggers responded to Stoney’s charge that the monuments “were the alternative facts of their time – a false narrative…” with accusations that organizations representing people of color promote “a false narrative” to which Stoney caved under pressure.
“Following the lead of disgraced New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Mayor Stoney has chosen to tow the PC line of the NAACP and SPLC, who have promoted the false narrative that our monuments and memorials are somehow tied to “racism, slavery, Jim Crow, and white supremacy,” the Flaggers said. “This false narrative has gained traction with the left, who has successfully used it to convince politicians to take up their cause of attempting to remove every trace of the Confederacy from public view.”
While cities like Charlottesville and New Orleans have either voted to remove or actually removed Confederate monuments, Richmond -- which served as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War - has not done so. The monuments are protected by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Poll after poll shows that an overwhelming majority of citizens of the Commonwealth oppose any removal or altering of War Memorials, and across Virginia, politicians who have supported such nonsense have consistently been voted out of office or lost their bid for election,” the Flaggers said.
The Flaggers said “no new ‘narrative’ or ‘context’” is needed to the monuments – “especially one based on the PC false narrative of the NAACP and SPLC.”
The group said that “racism, slavery, Jim Crow, or white supremacy” is not the point of the statues, but rather “honoring men who answered the call of the Commonwealth to defend hearth and home from invasion.”
The Flaggers said they “stand ready to vigorously defend these monuments.”
“True diversity and inclusiveness is not achieved by destroying the history of one group of people, in order to appease the demands of another,” they concluded in their statement.