RICHMOND, Va. -- As crews work to remove statues that honor Confederate generals around Richmond, the Sons of Confederate Veterans want to make sure laws are being followed, Andrew Bennett Morehead, a spokesman for the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said.
"Whether I like the law or whether the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans likes the law, as long as the law is adhered to, and the monuments are not destroyed, or altered, as it does state in the new law that took effect at midnight, that's fine," he said. "As long as they were taken down properly and correctly and turned over to the private sector, which is always more effective financially in every other way than the public sector, placed on privately held grounds to remain protected, preserved, and revered as they should be for perpetuity, I'm fine with that."
Morehead questioned Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's stance that the statues needed to be removed immediately because they were a threat to public safety.
"It's interesting to me that the mayor is all of a sudden concerned with public safety when his policies and his administration, the policies of the Governor of Commonwealth, complete with the Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth breaking curfew to grandstand on the Lee statue several weeks ago. It's interesting that they're all of a sudden worried about legalities and public safety," he said.
In a statement, Mayor Stoney said he was using his emergency powers to order the immediate removal of "multiple monuments in the city, including Confederate statues."
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, and protesters attempt to take down Confederate statues themselves or confront others who are doing so, the risk grows for serious illness, injury, or death,” Mayor Stoney said in a statement. “We have an urgent need to protect the public.”
The mayor also cited the city's need to heal as it grapples with its Confederate legacy.
The removal comes less than two hours after Richmond City Council put off a vote to remove Confederate monuments from Monument Avenue.
In that meeting, Stoney introduced a resolution calling for the immediate removal of Confederate statues in Richmond.
A vote was to be taken Thursday.
Stoney argued that since Richmond was under a state of emergency and he is in control of emergency management, he had the right to remove the statues citing concerns over public safety. It appears Stoney is confident in that legal interpretation.
This is a developing story.