Virginia city council votes to remove Confederate statues

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Officials in a Virginia city have voted unanimously to remove two statues of Confederate generals from downtown parks, including one that was the focus of a violent white nationalist rally in 2017.

The vote came late Monday after more than 50 people spoke during a virtual meeting, most in favor of removal, news outlets reported.

The statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson won’t be removed immediately from their respective spots in Market Street Park and Court Square Park; the state requires a 30-day window for the city to offer them to any museum, historical society, government or military battlefield.

The vote came a day before the Supreme Court of Virginia heard arguments on whether the state has the right to take down a statue of Lee in the capital, Richmond. It’s not clear when the court will rule.

In April, the state Supreme Court overturned a Circuit Court decision in favor of a group of residents who sued to block Charlottesville from taking down the statues.

White supremacist and neo-Nazi organizers of the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville said they went to the city to defend the statue of Lee. They clashed with counterprotesters before a man plowed his car into a crowd of people, killing a woman.

In 1918, the city accepted a resident’s offer to donate land for parks for both statues. The Jackson statue was erected in 1921 and the Lee statue was erected in 1924.