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Richmond leaders call for immediate removal of Confederate statues

Posted at 11:57 AM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-22 14:13:04-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond City Council members Stephanie Lynch and Dr, Michael Jones have called for the immediate removal of Confederate Monuments in Richmond.

Lynch and Jones recently sent a letter to Haskell Brown, the interim City Attorney, seeking his legal opinion on the removal the statues as soon as possible.

"In the interest of public safety, we are asking that you determine whether there is a legal precedent that would allow the remaining confederate monuments and memorials in Richmond to be removed as soon as possible," they wrote.

Richmond Police declared an unlawful assembly Sunday night and broke up a gathering of people accused of attempting to pull down another Confederate monument.

Richmond Police declared Sunday night's gathering near the statue to Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart unlawful and ordered those in the crowd to leave the area along Monument Avenue around 9:30 p.m.

A line of police in riot gear then moved in to encircle the monument and used chemical agents to disperse the crowd.

Richmond Police issued a warning Friday that officers would declare an unlawful assembly if protests become violent or dangerous.

"Beyond their history as a symbol of white supremacy, they currently create a public safety threat. Protesters have clearly shown they are willing to take the removal of these statues into their own hands, as we have seen with the removal of smaller monuments in the city; there is a risk of people being injured or killed in an attempt to damage or remove the remaining monuments," Lynch and Jones wrote.

"All nine Councilmembers have already indicated their support for removing the monuments, and protestors and organizers have made this demand very clear in their words and actions," they added.

Multiple Confederate monuments in Richmond have been rallying points following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Monuments to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate General Williams Wickham were among the half dozen or so statues toppled in Richmond.

Police have not made any arrests in those incidents, but have said they were investigating the crimes.

The Robert E. Lee Monument, the largest Confederate monument on Richmond's Monument Avenue, sits on property owned by the state of Virginia. Governor Northam has said he intended to remove the Lee statue as soon as possible. The process is being held up in the courts.

Isaiah Bowen, Garth Bowen
Isaiah Bowen, right, takes a shot as his dad, Garth Bowen, center, looks on at a basketball hoop in front of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue Sunday June 21, 2020, in Richmond, Va. A judge extended an injunction delaying the removal of the statue by the state. The statue had become a focal point for the Black Lives Matter movement in Richmond. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Richmond City Council is scheduled to vote in July on the removal of Confederate monuments located on city property.