Senate Republican leaders oppose removal of Richmond's Lee monument
Several Virginia Republican leaders have issued statements expressing their opposition to Governor Ralph Northam's order to remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue in Richmond.
On Thursday, Gov. Northam – joined by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, along with Robert Johns, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Rev. Robert Lee (a descendant of Robert E. Lee), Attorney General Mark Herring, and student Zeonna Bryant –
from Monument Avenue.
Separately, Richmond Mayor Stoney has
A law recently passed by the General Assembly gives local governments across Virginia the authority to remove Confederate monuments when it takes effect on July 1. But the Lee monument is on different ground – quite literally. It sits on about 100 feet of property owned by the commonwealth of Virginia, surrounded by Richmond-owned land.
That's why the governor has legal authority over it.
But despite Northam's statement on Thursday and high praise from other state leaders for removing what they called a "symbol of white supremacy," not everyone was in agreement, especially across the aisle in the General Assembly.
Senate Republican leaders say Governor Northam is wrong to have the statue removed.
In a joint statement, members of the GOP said:
The announcement to remove the statue came in the wake of protests and rioting across the country after the murder of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota. Four police officers are now charged in his death.
The statement was signed by Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City), Caucus Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover), Caucus Co-Chairman Mark D. Obenshain (R-Rockingham), Caucus Whips William M. Stanley, Jr. (R-Franklin) and Bryce E. Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), and Republican Leader Pro-Tempore Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford).
The Senate Republican leaders' opposition was joined by the Virginia Flaggers, which has been fighting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville in court for years.
Grayson Jennings issued the following statement on behalf of the Virginia Flaggers:
The majority of Richmond City Council has already expressed approval of the plan.