ROCKVILLE, Md. — The city has joined the national debate over what to do with Confederate memorials with a discussion of the statue that sits next to the Red Brick Courthouse.
Montgomery County citizens, along with historians and City Council members, had a chance to voice opinions and concerns Monday night at Rockville City Hall over the fate a 102-year-old bronze statue of a rebel soldier. Some want it removed; others want it to stay.
Dalwin Williams, who is African-American, took issue with County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett’s decision to remove the statue immediately.
“That statue is part of America’s history. Nobody is proud of their entire history. We all have chapters in our history we’re ashamed of, but has anybody suggested we close down the Holocaust Museum or not finish the Black American History Museum on the Mall? No!” Williams said.
The Rockville City Council held the meeting, which was packed and grew contentious at times, to collect ideas and discuss options for the memorial. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., weighed in on the issue in a letter, saying he stood with Leggett in “supporting immediate action to remove the statue from the lawn.”
He added that he traveled with President Barack Obama last month to Charleston, South Carolina, “where we stood in solidarity with the families of the men and women tragically gunned down at Emanuel AME Church,” and that “beyond the Confederate battle flag, there is no place for other symbols of a shameful era of institutionalized racism in public spaces, including the statue near the Red Brick Courthouse.”
Leggett on Friday ordered the statue’s removal, and since the statue sits on county land Leggett may have the final say on the issue.
When and how the statue will be removed isn’t clear at this point. The biggest question that remains is where the statue will end up.