Billboard calls for removal of Lee, Jackson statues

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — A national organization has installed a billboard in Charlottesville calling for the removal of two Confederate statues in city parks.

According to a release, the Make It Right Project installed the billboard on East High Street near the intersection with the Route 250 Bypass.

The billboard shows the statues of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee with the words Monumental Change Needed.

"It is no coincidence that Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville and across the country, are so often the sites of racist violence and intimidation," said MIR Director Kali Holloway. "They were erected as key elements in a domestic terror campaign against African-Americans, and they continue to be a threat to public safety and well-being."

Activist Don Gathers said this billboard is important to help show that racism isn't accepted in the community.

"The necessity of getting that message out there continues to exist," said Gathers. "We've got to continue to shut down racism in every form and fashion and every opportunity."

The release says the Make It Right Project is dedicated to working with multiple groups to remove Confederate monuments and develop post-removal protocols to tell the truth about history.

Earlier this year, the Virginia Flaggers installed billboards in the same area supporting the statues.

A lawsuit is still making its way through the court system over whether cities have the authority in Virginia to remove Confederate monuments or if they are protected as war monuments.

Attorney Charles Weber, along with a group of Charlottesville residents, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and others, sued Charlottesville after the city council voted to remove the monuments in 2017.

Judge Richard Moore ruled in late 2017 that the Jackson statue met the criteria of being a war memorial while allowing mourning tarps to cover the statues following the deadly Aug. 12 rally.

Then, in February of 2018, Judge Moore ruled that the Robert E. Lee statue qualifies as well, and ordered the tarps that council had placed on the statues to come down.