Mayor of Richmond, Virginia, rebukes city council, uses office to remove Confederate monuments

He cited 'unrest' in the city as a motivating factor.

Updated: July 2, 2020 - 1:37pm

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The mayor of Richmond, Virginia, this week invoked what he claimed was his authority under a declared state of emergency in order to direct the removal of nearly a dozen Confederate States of America monuments throughout the city. 

The move by Mayor Levar Stoney – which comes amid a nationwide activist push to tear down and destroy monuments ranging from Confederate generals to Founding Fathers to Union Civil War heroes to abolitionists – was an end-run on established city law. They mayor refused to allow the City Council time to deliberate on the removal of the statues, instead ordering their immediate removal. 

Activists in Richmond in recent weeks have ripped down several statues in the area, including one of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Stoney told media that that "unrest" was one of the reasons he elected to rush ahead with the project to remove the statues.

Only about one-third of voters (32 percent) said in a recent Morning Consult/Politico poll that such statues should be taken down.

Statues of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson and legendary oceanographer and Confederate Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury have been removed by the city so far. 

The mayor had introduced a resolution to the City Council this week to expedite the removal of the statues. The council said it was unable to vote on the measure without a 24-hour public notice period. Stoney subsequently elected to proceed with the statue removal without the vote.

A city attorney had previously advised the mayor that the immediate removal of the statues would be going against the legal advice the city attorney's office had given him. 

The statues will reportedly rest in storage while authorities determine where to ultimately place them. 

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