Virginia legislators refused to support legislation removing a confederate statue from Alexandria, dashing the hopes of local officials who said the statue is racially offensive.
Delegates to the state General Assembly for Alexandria informed the all-Democratic city council Wednesday they would not introduce legislation endorsing the council’s plan to move the Appomattox statue to a less visible site. The council voted Sept. 17 to move the famous Appomattox statue from an intersection in historic Old Town Alexandria to the lawn of a nearby museum. Virginia law prohibits any municipality from moving any monuments or statues in the state without their approval, reports The Washington Post.
The delegates said a bill moving the statue would be doomed to fail from the start and hurt their standing within the General Assembly.
“It wouldn’t help us advance the rest of our priorities, and it’s not a productive use of our time,” Democratic State Sen. Adam Ebbin told the council Wednesday.
The statue depicts a nameless confederate soldier bowing his head after the confederacy surrendered to Union forces at Appomattox. Proponents of the council’s plan wanted the statue placed on either the lawn or inside The Lyceum, Alexandria’s history museum. It currently sits on the spot where a Confederate regiment retreated from the city in 1861.
“What we heard last night is they don’t want to go forward with it for political reasons, because it would hurt their personal standing,” John Taylor Chapman, a council member, said Wednesday according to The Washington Post.
Local lawmakers also voted to approve a motion in September allowing the city to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway due to its affiliation with the confederacy and slavery. Community members will soon be asked by local officials to submit suggestions for a new name.
A task force commissioned by the council to consider renaming the highway and moving the statue told the council in September the statue probably should be left in place. The task force recommended the city change the highway’s name, but characterized the statue as simply “a sad and unarmed soldier, not a heroic figure.”
They recommend the council commission a plaque for the statue that clarifies its meaning to tourists.
“It is a confederate statue and simply the word ‘confederate statue’ already implicates controversy towards its existence, but the title of the statue is Appomattox,” Gary Eyler, historian and owner of the Old Colony Shop in Old Town, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in October. “If you look at what happened at Appomattox, it was where the north and south agreed that the south was beaten. I look at the statue as viewing history, and not trying to be a part of the history but just trying to understand it.”
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