City doesn’t own Confederate monument at South Richmond courthouse

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 5/13/2021, 6 p.m.
The City of Richmond has never owned the massive Confederate stone monument that sits outside the South Side courthouse named …
Mr. Sarahan

The City of Richmond has never owned the massive Confederate stone monument that sits outside the South Side courthouse named for Richmond’s first Black mayor, Henry L. Marsh III, and his brother, Harold M. Marsh Sr.

Digging in city records, Michael Sarahan, a city resident who is pushing for removal of the marker that pays tribute to the Confederate Elliott Grays and Manchester Artillery, turned up the May 14, 1935, resolution of approval.

At the time, the city had a bicameral government comprised of a City Council and Board of Alderman.

The joint resolution of both bodies authorizes the Elliott Grays Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to install the marker on what then was called Washington Square at its “own cost and expense,” with the city to pay for the foundation.

However, the resolution does not include any language stating the city would take possession, meaning the Confederate monument still belongs to the UDC chapter.

A former lawyer on the staff of the City Attorney’s office, Mr. Sarahan said that City Council likely would need to rescind the permission to display the monument at the courthouse and request that the UDC chapter remove it.

He said he is distributing copies of the resolution to council members and hopes one member will take action.

Jim Nolan, press secretary to Mayor Levar M. Stoney, confirmed that the marker is not registered in the city’s inventory of Confederate items.

He said that both state and city laws lay out a process for disposal of Confederate markers.

“I don’t see any reason why the administration and the council would not support such a course of action,” Mr. Nolan said about the statue’s removal. “We have been clear that we are prepared to remove symbols of the Confederacy” from city property.

Separately, Monday night, City Council approved a procedure for disposing of the city-owned Confederate statues that were taken down last year. An administration-council committee is to present recommendations for disposal, though no date for doing so has been set.

Joyce L. Davis, the council’s interim chief of staff, also notified the governing body that the city Commission of Architectural Review, which is an arm of the city Planning Commission, begins consideration of the fate of the statues’ pedestals on Tuesday, May 25.

A second arm of the Planning Commission, the Urban Design Committee, is to consider the pedestal question on Thursday, June 10, and the issue will be on the Planning Commission’s agenda on Monday, June 21, she said.