Discussing Confederate symbols is ‘top priority,’ Fairfax lawmaker says

With Confederate statues and symbols being removed or toppled across the country, leaders in Fairfax, Virginia, are seeking to learn more about the symbols that are located in their community.

Fairfax City Council member Jon Stehle told WTOP that lawmakers will focus on the issue.

“Finding the right conversation and having it with the community is top priority for this next council,” Stehle said.

“We’ve certainly heard from many of our citizens and have been paying attention to the concerns raised about the historic past of our region,” Stehle said.

Elections in Fairfax were held last month, and the city council is scheduled to be sworn in June 30.

There are several historic markers around Fairfax.

There used to be an historical marker on Main Street claiming that was the spot where the Confederate flag was born, but the city recently removed that sign saying it violated traffic safety requirements.

“We absolutely have received many different emails, asking about anything from the markers that people may have driven by for many years and never stopped at, to ones people know a lot about,” Stehle said.

Lawmakers may hold a virtual town hall meeting to get input from the public.

“Our city manager is putting together a conversation for the new council to take a good look at what is going on and what is existent within our city,” Stehle said. “A lot of it is really the mechanics of understanding what is where.”

Fairfax High School announced this month that it was dropping its nickname “Rebel Pride” and changing its mascot to the “Fairfax Lions.”

Principal Erin Lenart said the “Rebel” name had long-standing ties to the Confederacy.

In Richmond, Virginia, statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham have been toppled.

Protesters in D.C. knocked down a statue of Confederate Gen. Albert Pike, and a memorial that marked the graves of 17 Confederate soldiers was destroyed in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Confederate symbols nationwide have been rallying points and sites of confrontations with police during demonstrations in the weeks since George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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