Private fundraising aims to help Richmond remove Confederate statues

As the City of Richmond, Virginia, works to tear down its Confederate statues, private fundraising efforts are underway to help defray the cost of removing them.

Shannon Harton, a real estate agent in Richmond, is one of the leaders of those efforts.

“Within a day we raised $1,000, and the next day we raised $2,500 more,” Harton said.

Through just four days of fundraising, Harton has generated more than $10,000. He launched the Fund to Move the Monuments website and has fundraisers set up through both Facebook and GoFundMe.

“Every dollar that we raise is a dollar that the city is not on the hook for,” Harton said.

Dozens of Confederate symbols have been taken down across the country in the weeks since George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Richmond has been working to remove 11 Confederate statues after Mayor Levar Stoney ordered that they be immediately taken off city land.

Crews used cranes and harnesses to pull down statues of Gen. Stonewall Jackson and naval officer Matthew Fontaine Maury. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has pledged to take down Richmond’s iconic statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

But the removal will not be cheap. Stoney said it would cost the city nearly $2 million to take down all the statues.

As is the case in cities around the country, Richmond’s budget is stretched thin due to impacts from the coronavirus pandemic, and Harton said he would rather have tax dollars go to schools, parks and roads.

“I really don’t want this cost to come out of those budgets,” Harton said.

Harton has been a supporter of the statues coming down for years.

“They’ve been a tourist attraction but not the right kind of tourism I believe,” Harton said.

“We’re always going to have been the capital of the Confederacy — that’s a piece of history. But we don’t really want to continue to be the capital of the Confederacy.”

Nick Iannelli

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

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up