The Richmond City Council unanimously approved a resolution laying out next steps to deal with its monuments, currently in storage. The city has received 22 applications from people and organizations who want the statues, ranging from requests for just the cannons to all of the objects.
“What’s important here is that we would have a collaborative process that this paper codifies,” Council President Cynthia Newbille (pictured above) said at the May 10 City Council meeting.
The resolution instructs the Council Chief of Staff and the Chief Administrative Officer to evaluate the offers and make recommendations to the Council. It also requires opportunities for public comment, and asks the officials to work with the City Attorney to negotiate the offers to the recommended applicants.
Applicants include multiple Sons of the Confederate Veterans organizations, several museums, and private individuals.
The city has a draft scoresheet to help evaluate the monuments. Applicants earn high points for historical contextualization; a permanent location at sites such as battlefields, museums, cemeteries, or military facilities; and for being nonprofits or government agencies that don’t “endorse, represent, encourage, celebrate, promote, defend, support, or advocate political, cultural, ideological, philosophical, sociopolitical, or anti-U.S. government identity, values, actions, or ideology.”
Five people spoke in the public comment period before the Council approved the resolution on May 10.
Robert Floyd argued for keeping the monuments in Virginia and suggested that officials approve the applications of the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust and the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Volpe Boykin spoke against destroying the monuments.
“It is not right or fair to judge people of the distant past with 21st century 20-20 hindsight,” Boykin said.
H.V. Traywick said, “Let men of worth restore these men to Monument Avenue, and let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Sarah Driggs and her daughter Katherine Driggs both spoke.
“What you decide has the potential to negatively affect another city or town for decades, the same way the monuments oppressed Richmond,” Sarah Driggs said.
She added, “It’s entirely appropriate to appoint a panel of citizen scholars and artists to continue to study and make recommendations if you did not get appropriate requests as of yet. These monuments have hovered like a dark cloud over our city for a century, and it took a terrible disruption and civic unrest to remove them. Why would we wish this on other communities?”
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