Loudoun Co. board chair wants Leesburg Confederate statue gone ‘the right way’

This Confederate statue, erected in 1908, stands in front of the Leesburg courthouse to honor Confederate soldiers of Loudoun County on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, in Leesburg, Virginia. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Loudoun County Board Chair Phyllis Randall wants the Confederate monument on the courthouse grounds in downtown Leesburg, Virginia, gone, but she wants those who have fought for racial equality to be able to savor the process of its removal.

Randall told WTOP that she will make a motion on July 7 to the county Board of Supervisors to hold a public hearing about the future of the Confederate monument, erected in 1908.

She said the public hearing will be held in early September. After the hearing, the Board of Supervisors will vote on the future of the monument.

Randall, the first woman of color in Virginia’s history to be an elected chair of a county board, said she “will not be coy.”

Phyllis J. Randall, who won a second term as chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, holds a press conference alongside newly elected Democrats of Loudoun County at the county’s Board of Supervisors offices on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Leesburg, Va. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“My vote will be to have it removed. It can go to a museum, it can go to a cemetery, it can go to an individual who would like it, or the Daughters of the Confederacy can reclaim their statue,” Randall said. “I do not believe it belongs on public, taxpayer, county-owned property.”

In April, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed measures authored by the Democratic-led General Assembly, which allows localities to remove, relocate or add more context to Confederate war memorials, starting July 1.

Protesters in Richmond have torn down several Confederate monuments in the weeks following the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Randall said forcefully removing or vandalizing the statues robs longtime justice advocates of the opportunity to witness an orderly removal.

“I understand that there’s some joy for people in just tearing it down,” Randall said. “But, I do think by doing that you take away a well-earned right that people who have been working on this for years.”

Randall said she first wrote an op-ed about removing the statue in 2004.

“That’s almost two decades. I can certainly wait until September — I intend to do it the right way,” she said.

“Tearing it down feels good at the moment, but I want the people who have been wronged by this and fighting this to watch the process play out, as it should. They deserve to be in the board room when this happens,” Randall said.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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