RICHMOND, Va. -- The state of Virginia installed signs around the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond on Tuesday, detailing new rules and regulations. Protesters have transformed the green space around the monument to a gathering, camping, and rallying space as they speak out against police brutality and racial injustice.
"While there have been many successful and peaceful events on the Lee Monument grounds since late May, concerns are mounting for the safety of those in attendance of the events and for those living and working within the immediate area, especially at night," a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of General Services said. "The substantial increase in pedestrian and bicycle traffic in and around the monument and intermittent blockages to vehicular traffic within the intersection pose serious safety risks."
The state has since ordered the area closed from sundown to sunrise each day.
Here are the actual signs visitors will see at Lee Monument pic.twitter.com/VvrD7UryGD— VA General Services (@DGSvirginia) June 23, 2020
The state has also prohibited climbing on the statue and the hanging of banners and signs.
In the days since the protests began, the Lee Monument has been used as the background for photos, audio-video displays, and art installations.
"In addition, such legal violations as vandalism, trespassing on nearby private properties, littering, public urination, and excessive noise have steadily been on the rise," the statement from the state agency continued. "As a result of increasing public safety risks and numerous legal violations, state and local law enforcement will be enforcing state laws, city ordinances and the regulations for use of the Lee Monument property. These steps are necessary to provide a safe and secure area for individuals who want to express their First Amendment rights peacefully, as well as general visitors to the site, City of Richmond residents and property owners."
The state issued the following rules for when the space around the monument reopens each morning:
- Vehicles are prohibited
- No climbing on the statue or its steps
- Maximum occupancy is 500
- No additional banners, flags, posters or other objects shall be placed on or affixed to the statue
- Unlawful activity is prohibited
- Events expected to draw 10 or more people require a permit
Signs went up at Lee Monument today listing the rules and regulations for public use of the space. We will continue to work with @VaCapitolPolice @VSPPIO and @RichmondPolice to educate visitors on these. Read them in full at https://t.co/4ygN428bF8. pic.twitter.com/OZUSm9ruOg— VA General Services (@DGSvirginia) June 23, 2020