Richmond leaders say Confederate statues need to come down for public safety

Another night of violent clashes between police and demonstrators in Richmond, Virginia, has two members of the city council calling for the immediate removal of all Confederate monuments.

So far, five memorials have been pulled down by protesters in recent weeks, and those that haven’t been pulled down yet probably won’t stay up too much longer.

Richmond takes control of the monuments on July 1 and is expected to begin work to remove those statues as soon as that happens, though the future of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is currently being fought in court.

The demonstrations have sometimes turned violent. In recent weeks, police have used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse crowds after police deemed them unlawful demonstrations, prompting criticism from protesters as well as some on the city council.

It ultimately led to the resignation of the city’s police chief last week.

Clashes broke out Sunday night, with reporters and demonstrators saying tear gas and rubber bullets were used to disperse demonstrators trying to pull down a statue of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.

The Associated Press reported that police had declared Sunday night’s gathering near the statue unlawful and ordered demonstrators to leave the area along Monument Avenue around 9:30 p.m.

Pictures circulating on social media showed police in riot gear standing in front of the statue, which had ropes hanging off it and a traffic cone on top.

Police said they’re preventing the statues from being pulled down out of fear that people would be hurt when they fall.

Richmond City Council members Stephanie Lynch and Michael Jones released a statement early Monday in which they declared that it is time for the rest of the statues to come down now “for public safety reasons.”

Later Monday, the council will hold an emergency meeting where Mayor Levar Stoney will discuss his “Roadmap for Reimagining Public Safety,” a task force he created last week in response to the ongoing violence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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