Public hearing set for new rules on Richmond's R.E. Lee statue
The Virginia state government is holding a public hearing on a plan to enact permanent rules for rallies at a massive statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.
The Department of General Services announced Wednesday the hearing is set for March 6 at the Virginia War Memorial Carillion.
The state is seeking to replace emergency regulations with permanent rules that cut the maximum crowd size from 5,000 to 500 and ban weapons at permitted events.
Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe enacted emergency rules in 2017 in response to deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville
The proposed regulations would also require permits for events expected to draw 10 participants or more.
Among the proposed regulations would be closing the statue to the public from sunset to sunrise and requiring a permit for any gathering of 10 or more people.
Other proposed regulations would prohibit weapons, sticks, signs, tables, placards and food at the statue.
"The people of Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, do own this monument. This is our monument,” Barry Isenhour of the Virginia Flaggers said.
He supports the idea in hopes it would keep vandals away.
"It’s easy to walk to the monument at night…and it doesn’t take long to do graffiti,” Isenhour said.
His group helps patrol the monuments and calls police if they see suspicious activity.
"I think a lot of times those groups come looking for trouble. They’re hoping there will be trouble and a confrontation and to get into a fight,” said Janice Nuckolls, who lives near the Lee statue.
She feels the restrictions could be a good thing to keep the statue in tact.
"We were the capital of the confederacy and who better than Richmond to tell the story…If every other community tears down old statues, we may be the only place left to learn and come learn about history,” she said.
But it's not an easy sell to Richmond councilman Mike Jones who has pushed for their removal.
“These monuments are symbols of white supremacy…Why not allow any private donors or anyone who has the inclination to keep them, why not allow their dollars versus taxpayer dollars to go and keep those up?” he added.
A public hearing on the proposals will be held from 10 a.m. to noon March 6 at the Virginia War Memorial Carillon at Byrd Park.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. and anyone who speaks will be limited to 2 minutes of time.
Seating is limited to 150.
Written comments can be made
until March 8.