Just one day shy of a week following a deadly white supremacist rally and counter-protest in his city, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer called for Confederate monuments to be removed from the city’s downtown area. Included among the Confederate monuments the mayor wants to see removed is the Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park, where the controversial “Unite the Right” rally took place last Saturday.
Charlottesville Mayor Signer made the recommendation that the confederate monuments be removed on Friday, calling last week’s deadly vehicle ramming of a crowd of counter-protesters a terrorist attack. As CNN reports, the mayor added that the City of Charlottesville must deny the “Nazis and the KKK and the so-called alt-right” the “lightning rods” that the Confederate monuments have become.
The right-wing terrorist attack that took place in Charlottesville last Saturday left 19 people injured and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a counter-protester marching against alt-right hate.
“With the terrorist attack, these monuments were transformed from equestrian statues into lightning rods. We can, and we must, respond by denying the Nazis and the KKK and the so-called alt-right the twisted totem they seek. And so for the sake of public safety, public reassurance, to magnify Heather’s voice, and to repudiate the pure evil that visited us here, I am calling today for the removal of these Confederate statues from downtown Charlottesville.”
Heyer was killed and her fellow counter-protesters were injured when a car allegedly driven by 20-year-old alt-right supporter James Fields Jr. of Ohio plowed into a crowd last Saturday. The counter-protesters had been vocally opposing the message of the controversial white supremacist message of the “Unite the Right” rally, which had gathered to oppose the removal of the Robert E. Lee Confederate monument featured prominently at Emancipation Park, formerly Robert E. Lee Park.
The decision to remove the controversial statue was already made earlier this year, well before Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer publicly called for Confederate monuments in his city to be taken down. The Charlottesville City Council approved the measure to remove the monument and rename the park where it stands earlier in 2017.
However, opponents of the Confederate monument’s removal filed a lawsuit to keep the iconic, nearly 100-year-old statue where it stands and a temporary injunction was issued in May. The injunction prevented the City of Charlottesville from removing the divisive Confederate monument for at least six months, and another hearing is slated for late August.
Last weekend’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville was organized to “defend” the statue of Confederate General Lee as well as promote white nationalist ideology. A permit was issued to event organizers to hold their gathering in Emancipation Park on Saturday, but many participants arrived last Friday night and the situation in Charlottesville immediately descended into racist chants and torch-carrying chaos.
Alt-right participants in the “Unite the Right” rally, including members of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, marched on the University of Virginia in Charlottesville late last Friday, carrying tiki torches and chanting racist and Nazi phrases.
“Jews will not replace us! Blood and Soil!”
Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer signaled today that his desire is to take the wind from the sails of devoted white supremacists by giving them no local Confederate monuments to rally around. It is possible that he will take a cue from Baltimore. That city was able to remove several Confederate monuments from within its borders earlier this week, avoiding violence by doing the deed quietly and under the cover of darkness.
[Featured Image by Julia Rendleman/AP Images]