Tarps covering Confederate statues removed three times in one day

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCAV) — The tarps on the Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson statues in Charlottesville were removed three times in just 24 hours: late Saturday night, a second time Sunday afternoon and again for a third time Sunday evening.

The persistent removal of the tarps comes a day before Monday's hearing that could determine whether or not the Lee Statue stays up.

Charlottesville Parks and Recreation came out twice on Sunday to replace the tarps and then a third time Monday morning.

Christian Griffith and his friend, Austin Quintal, noticed the bare statues when walking downtown, and think the removal of the tarps is a sign of disrespect.

"Given the racism behind a lot of it, I think it's just, even given the recent riots and everything that happened, it would be a lot more respectful to cover it," said Quintal.

The tarps were put up after the Aug. 12 riots that resulted in the deaths of Heather Heyer and two state troopers.

In the time since then, they have been removed multiple times and replaced by Parks and Recreation crews. If the tarp is damaged when it's removed, replacing it comes at a cost to the city.

City officials say each tarp, measuring 40 feet by 60 feet, costs about $375, totaling around $5,400 spent so far in 12 tarps ordered in two shipments. These numbers reflect only the tarps and do not include associated costs such as manpower or equipment needed to shroud the statues.

The debate on whether or not the statues should remain downtown has been ongoing for years now.

"I think it would be best for them to be in museums, because then you have both sides win in on that," said Griffith. "If you want them down, they're taken down, but if you truly want to celebrate history, you're putting them in a place where they're shown as a historical thing."

Attorney Charles Weber sued the city after they voted to remove the monuments. He said it's a protected war monument.

Late last year, a judge ruled the Jackson Statue meets criteria of being a war memorial.

Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy is an advocate for the statue removal. He said that no matter what is decided Monday at the hearing, he will continue looking for ways for it to be removed.

"Regardless of what transpires tomorrow in court, we're still going to move forward in terms of exercising all of our options to move the statues out the city of Charlottesville," said Bellamy.

The person or persons who removed the tarps could face trespassing charges due to crossing the orange fencing put up by the city around the statue.

Monday's hearing starts at 1 p.m.