Back-and-forth over statue shrouds costing Charlottesville thousands

Photo credit: Courteney Stuart, Newsplex
Photo credit: Courteney Stuart, Newsplex(WHSV)
Published: Sep. 19, 2017 at 1:01 PM EDT
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Tarps covering the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in downtown Charlottesville were removed once again on Monday night, though the shroud over Jackson was covered back up just as quickly as it was taken down.

A group led by white nationalist Jason Kessler, the organizer of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally last month, removed the shrouds on both statues.

Spectators recorded video and police stood by as it happened.

The Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney's office has previously said that removing the tarps from the statues is not a crime. If someone were to damage the tarp or the statue while removing it, though, that act would be prosecuted as vandalism.

This comes after a back-and-forth over the weekend with people removing the shrouds.

Since Charlottesville City Council voted unanimously to shroud the monuments as a sign of respect to the three people who lost their lives on August 12, individuals and groups have taken down the tarps as the city continually replaces them.

On at least one occasion, a tarp was removed from the same statue twice within a 24-hour period.

And that is racking up costs for the city.

When the tarps have been removed, they have sometimes been cut down and damaged, requiring the city to replace them entirely. 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 group led by Kessler on Monday said they will be back each night the city recovers the statues.

The statues will remain covered until an ongoing lawsuit reaches a verdict. It's up for debate whether or not the statues can be removed from the parks entirely.

On Tuesday, police put up plastic orange fencing around both statues with 'No Trespassing' signs, so that anyone who crosses those fences can be charged with trespassing in the future.