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 to a nearby park 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.
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.
Then in April Councilor Szakos got three councillors to vote to get rid of Lee by putting him up for sale. They had not decided how to obscure or revile or desecrate Jackson, and tasked city staff with soliciting ideas through a Request for Proposals.
In the Summer of 2017 after street clashes between right wing and left wing demonstrators (the latter encouraged to take to the streets, notably by City Councillor Wes Bellamy) the City Council voted on a resolution to remove Jackson as well as Lee.
The City Council also voted to drape giant black trash-bag like tarps over both monuments. They claimed it was in mourning for one of the demonstrators they'd encouraged to confront the right wing demonstrators, killed when a car plowed into a crowd.
In fact, comments by Counsellor Szakos and Mayor Signer indicated the purpose of the giant trash bags was to conceal the monuments, permanently. The Mayor had previously supported keeping both monuments. He reversed himself in August when the political winds shifted.