Richmond City Council members praise 'historic' removal of Jackson statue

Posted at 2:47 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 15:29:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Multiple Richmond City Council members when on hand Wednesday afternoon as crews prepared to remove the Stonewall Jackson statue on Monument Avenue.

Among them were Michael Jones (9th District) and Stephanie Lynch (5th District), both of whom have supported the removal of Confederate statues in the city.

Richmond City Councilman Mike Jones has been particularly outspoken in his support to removal Confederate monuments, first calling for their removal following the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

"It's history. It's history being made. That's why I'm out here," said Jones. "I think it's the right thing to do, at the right time. I could say it's 130 years, too late, but in light of all the protesting and everything that's going on, I know a lot of people in Richmond want to get to our new norm. So I'm ready."

Jones credited the young protesters who marched the streets for more than a month to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor.

"Everyone is gathering together to say Black Lives Matter and White supremacy cannot exist and should not exist in this country," said Jones. "I'm proud of everything that these young Richmonders have done to get us to this point to where we can truly say Virginia is for lovers."

Lynch called the moment historic.

"I'm proud to be in this city. I'm proud to be a part of this moment," she said. "I think this is going to be read about in textbooks, all across the nation, and hopefully across the world for the rest of our human existence as long as we have history."

When asked about what's next, Jones says it's an opportunity to begin to write the future.

"We have to begin to craft a new narrative that all people are welcome in Richmond, Virginia, on every street on every neighborhood corner," said Jones. But then, as we talk about removing knees from necks, we've got to move beyond statements and statues. We have to really look at investing in African American communities, investing in people of color, to begin to rewrite the social injustice that we've endured for over 400 years."

A majority of Richmond City Council had expressed support for the removal of the monuments.

During Wednesday's meeting, Richmond City Attorney Haskell Brown said based on the city charter, City Council could not legally vote on the mayor's resolution Wednesday since it was not publicly noticed for the special meeting.

Brown said Stoney's resolution was received 23 minutes before the start of Wednesday's virtual meeting and he had not had time to review its legality.

Richmond City Councilwoman Kim Gray, who is a candidate for mayor, urged Richmond City Council to not skirt their own charter. She said City Council took an oath to uphold the constitution and charter of the city, but said if the attorney can find a legal means to expedite the process she would support it.

Stoney said it would cost $1.8 million to remove the statues. He said the money would come from the Department of Public Works. He said the money spent would be reimbursed by a private fund.

Stay with CBS 6 for the latest on this developing story.

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