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Group files request to hold rally at Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond

Posted at 9:53 PM, Aug 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 02:34:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- State officials confirm a group has filed a request to hold a rally at the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond in September.

"The Department of General Services has received a request from Americans for Richmond Monument Preservation for a permit to hold an event at Lee Monument on Sept. 16," Virginia Department of General Services Director of Communications Dena Potter said in an email to WTVR.

Potter added that the request was pending and has not yet been approved. She also said that regardless of whether the request is approved, the agency will meet with the person who filed the application.

A Richmond Police spokeswoman confirmed the department was are aware of the request, but that more information with be forthcoming this week.

Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said the city would be prepared for whatever happens.

“Every protest that comes to the city, we do a great job at planning,” Durham said. “You plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

Barry Isenhour with the Virginia Flaggers group said Brag Bowling with the Coalition for Monument Preservation filed the request to hold the rally at the Confederate general's monument, which is slated for noon on Saturday, Sept. 16, three days after the Monument Avenue Commission's next meeting.

"We will be supporting their efforts and need a HUGE showing of patriotic Southerners to make a statement to Mayor Stoney, the commission, and the entire city of Richmond," reads a post published Monday. Aug. 7 on the group's website.

The application was filed before Saturday's chaos in Charlottesville where thousands of protesters and counter protesters converged on the city for the "Unite the Right” rally of white nationalists and other right-wing groups.

Far-right activists and Ku Klux Klan members have flocked to that city in recent months, outraged by the city’s intention to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Isenhour stressed the planned rally is in no way connected to the "Unite the Right" event, but is geared to a show of support for the city's Confederate monuments.

When asked about social media posts from people concerned about something similar happening in Richmond, Isenhour said the group's only goal is to make sure the monuments are preserved.

"The only people who should be 'on edge' are the ones who seek to destroy our monuments and memorials, as our intention is to make sure that never happens, and that no context is added," Isenhour said.

Stay with and watch CBS 6 News for continuing coverage of this important story. 

Robert E. Lee monument along Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Robert E. Lee monument along Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Monument Avenue Commission

More than 500 people attended a public meeting for the Monument Avenue Commission last Wednesday.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney set-up the commission to explore adding new statues to Richmond's Monument Avenue and/or adding context to existing Confederate monuments that line the historic street.

The head of the commission ultimately reminded the group about their purpose, which was to discuss possibly adding context to the Confederate monuments or add more statues to the city honoring others.

Mayor Stoney did not attend the meeting, but a spokesperson told CBS 6 that he will review what was said.

The next public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 13.

Mark Holmberg: Why Monument Avenue is safe as other cities remove Civil War statues

The U.S. Park Service says "Monument Avenue is the nation's only grand residential boulevard with monuments of its scale surviving almost unaltered to present day."

The whole avenue is a national historic landmark.

Famously monumental cities like Paris love our avenue not because they're whistling "Dixie," but because of the way our grand architecture grew around the superb layout led by the placement of the monuments. It's just classic stuff.

(France also built and shipped us the Lee monument, much like the Statue of Liberty. In fact, Gen. Lee, was first erected there.)

It should be noted that the placement of the Lee monument, our oldest, was debated from the very start, almost exactly as we're doing today.

So our city - a huge slave port, auction block and gallows, the former Capital of the Confederacy - has been having this discussion for 127 years, perhaps longer than anywhere else.

We added the Arthur Ashe monument to the avenue and will likely add others. (Why Maggie Walker couldn't have been the first female is beyond me.)

These monuments were built on donated land with privately-raised money, and then eventually turned over to the city.

Except for Lee, who is owned and maintained by the state.

That means everyone in Virginia owns it. And everyone in Richmond owns the rest of them.

Plus, there's a thin but still significant layer of protection that comes with our avenue's unique - yes, unique - national historic designation.

Monument Avenue is a National Historic Landmark

[caption id="attachment_1039161" align="aligncenter" width="770"]A sign at the Monument Avenue Commission public hearing. A sign at the Monument Avenue Commission public hearing.