In the past few years a small but vocal minority in Charlottesville began to complain our local monuments celebrate oppression of Native Americans or African Americans. The two Civil War generals Lee and Jackson have come under the most persistent attacks, with Lee now primarily the target, for being too visible; too prominent.
Calling the monuments intimidating symbols of white supremacy, early in 2016 city councillors Wes Bellamy and Kristin Szakos sought city council approval for their removal.
Later in 2016 a Blue Ribbon Commission hand picked by Szakos, Bellamy, and a third councillor Bob Fenwick, surprised its creators by voting to keep both monuments in their parks. Then, under outside pressure they relented and voted a second time, now to send City Council the option to move Lee but leave Jackson alone; they voted also to recommend the alternative of keeping both monuments where they are. They were in accord that whatever happened, both monuments should stay in the city. But City Council ignored them.
City Council in January 2017 first deadlocked on the recommendations 2-2 with councillor Fenwick abstaining. But then in February Fenwick again under outside pressure, changed his vote, so it was 3-2 in favor of removing Lee and obscuring Jackson.
Then in April Councilor Szakos got three councillors to vote to get rid of Lee by putting him up for sale. They don't yet know what they will do to obscure or revile or desecrate Jackson; they've tasked city staff with soliciting ideas.
City Council refused the City Attorney's offer to ask Virginia’s Attorney General whether removing Lee was illegal. That would take too long, and they were not interested in contrary legal advice. They chose to act without it.
Now only our lawsuit can stop them. At least temporarily, we have.