No going back
8/6/2020, 6 p.m.
Confederates don’t go easy.
When the recent surge began to remove the Monument Avenue statues that tragically honor traitors to our nation and racist slavers who sought to deny our humanity, there was no doubt the blowback would come.
We point to recent events in Richmond and Hanover County as examples.
In Richmond, Confederate sympathizers have gone to court to block their centerpiece from extinction — the 12-ton, six-story statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — even as other icons to their Lost Cause have been taken down and put into storage, so appropriately, outside the city sewage treatment plant in South Side.
On Monday, Richmond City Council initiated the process to dispose of the statues. The city has opened an offering period and is preparing a process that allows museums, historical groups, government entities and others to submit proposals for buying and taking them away.
City Council Vice President Chris A. Hilbert has suggested they be sold at public auction and put on private property.
We believe an auction or sale of some type would be a good way for the City of Richmond — and its taxpayers — to recoup some of the $1.8 million it cost to sweep away this flotsam and jetsam left by the defiant losers of the Civil War as a symbol of their unrelenting oppression of Black people.
We have long held that these statues belong elsewhere, such as in museums, at Civil War battlefields or the historic homes of these Confederates preserved by foundations where people can learn about the history and mistakes of the past.
They don’t need to be a drag on the psyche, morale and budget of our city and its diverse population any longer.
Since the Lee statue was erected in 1890 and the others on Monument Avenue followed, the people of Richmond have paid a heavy price. Now we ask City Council to ensure that the cost to transfer the statues to whomever winds up getting them is borne by those entities and not the taxpayers.
Nor do we want to see the statues erected on private property along the heavily traveled interstates in Metro Richmond. We don’t want to see them perched next to the roadway, like the oversized Confederate flag at Interstate 295 and Interstate 64 in Eastern Henrico County, where they can become a bitter landmark to the past or a rally point for the Ku Klux Klan.
The continued veneration of these Confederate statues also gives rise to the resentment over their removal and fans the flames of hate. Historic African-American and Jewish cemeteries were tagged this week with graffiti used by white supremacist groups. The numerals “777” were spraypainted on the gravesite of noted Richmond businesswoman Maggie L. Walker at Evergreen Cemetery and also at the Sir Moses Montefiore, Barton Heights and East End cemeteries.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the numerals have links to ancient symbols appropriated by the Nazis and white supremacist groups.
The neo-Confederates and hate mongers have it twisted. Mrs. Walker was about building people up, not oppressing people or keeping people in bondage because of their skin color or heritage.