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Richmond councilmember commends removal of city's last Confederate statue: 'We are the embodiment of change'

Posted at 6:47 PM, Dec 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-13 17:42:20-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- After a long legal battle over the moving of Confederate War General, A.P. Hill's remains, his monument that once stood at Hermitage Road and Laburnum Avenue is now down.

Litigation to remove the Confederate monuments began in 2017, according to Richmond City Councilman Mike Jones.

"Ultimately what tipped the tide was the George Floyd protest, so I can't sit up here and say I did it myself because I didn't," Jones said.

He and other Richmond residents echoed an outcry that symbols of what many say are both history and hate, be removed.

"It was that generation of protesters that said look we are the embodiment of change, we are the embodiment of love and inclusivity," Jones said.

The first monument was taken down in June 2020 after protesters removed it themselves. Now more than two years later, the last standing Confederate monument in Richmond was removed from its pedestal.

"That’s how they ultimately came down because outside of that it was just strokes of pens and passage of votes, but it was the people that brought that change," Jones said.

As Virginia stood as the state with the most Confederate monuments, Jones said the removal marks the beginning of a new chapter.

"For us, it’s the end of a chapter, as we continue to write the novel for our Commonwealth," he said. "We have to embrace our history but we have to contextualize it and tell the truth about the entire history of our commonwealth and the formation of our country."

Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch said she's excited to see the ideas from the community for not just this space, but all of the monuments, come to fruition.

"I am very excited for the city to get underway. For the city and our stakeholder partners to get underway on a reimagining of these spaces," she said. "There's lots of different possibilities for the public spaces, but they're public spaces because they are owned by the public and so it is the community that will have to determine what the best use of those spaces will be."

Richmond City Mayor, Levar Stoney said he's glad to the city's last Confederate monument come down.

"Today marks the last day of the last call of last calls. I'm proud of my city. We've done something that a lot of communities have struggled with, and I think a ton of people are ready to turn the page," he said. "Focus on lifting more people up becoming more inclusive and creating a place that everyone belongs."

While others like Laszlo Valant, a descendent of A.P. hill hoped for a different outcome.

"It's part of our family's heritage that is being destroyed, for no good reason. It's not hurting anybody. I hope his remains are treated respectfully," he said.

Meanwhile, Councilman Jones said he hopes to see a positive change not just in the spaces the monuments once stood but continued change in the lives of Richmond Residents.

"We truly want to see the words that were embodied in the declaration of independence where we talked about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that has to be embodied in every community. As the monuments come down, there are still individuals who are getting killed, we still have schools that are underfunded we have to get the real work that ensures our capital city is what it should be, flower gardens, that's great but we are still not where we need to be as a city," Jones said.

The search for the remains of A.P. Hill continues but once found, they will be transferred to Fairview Cemetery in Culpeper, Virginia, where Hill was born.

The monument itself will be given to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.

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