Rob Shimshock, DCNF
The city council of Charlottesville, Virginia voted 3-2 to remove the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from Lee Park and 5-0 voted to rename the park, a decision which some believe sanitizes a public space and others believe is censoring history.
Council members in favor of the measures, as well as council members against, sought to explain their votes.
“Time after time in his teaching, Jesus called out the need to act with mercy for those with less power in society,” said Kristen Szakos, justifying the removal.
“We will not be bullied, we will not be pushed away,” said Wes Bellamy, who also voted to strip the city of the statue. Bellamy recently came under fire for tweets that were construed by many as racist and sexist.
“The mission of that federal armed force was to preserve the economic lifeblood of the Confederacy, literally, and that was the enslavement of human beings,” said Bob Fenwick, who had previously abstained from voting but now broke the tie.
Voting against the removal, council member Kathy Galvin stressed the importance of keeping the statue to ensure citizens come to grips with Charlottesville’s past.
“We’d be focusing on the less controversial but still extremely important recommendations contained in the Blue Ribbon Commission’s report,” said Mike Signer, detailing what the committee would have done if they voted to keep the statue as he did.
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