Virginia Beach council votes unanimously to move Confederate monument

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach has become the latest locality to agree to move its Confederate monument further from the public eye.

Virginia Beach City Council voted unanimously, 11-0, Thursday night on a resolution that will remove and store the city’s Confederate monument while soliciting proposals for relocation.

The 115-year-old statue currently stands outside the historic Princess Anne Courthouse. A city spokeswoman said the monument is expected to be moved within a week or so. It is not known how much relocation would cost.

At least 32 people signed up to speak during Thursday’s public comment period held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Several argued the monument honors the wrong side of history.

“They are not veterans. They are not heroes. They are traitors and we need to take down these statues honoring American traitors,” one speaker said.

Others said that the monuments are part of their family history and they’d like to see them preserved.

“I am the great-great-granddaughter of a Confederate soldier,” one woman said. “I’m here to protect my children’s rights and their freedom of speech. They got a right to be proud of who they are and where they come from.”

A few in the crowd said whether it’s pain that’s felt or pride, the statue serves an educational purpose.

“I say it’s a reminder of where we can never go again,” one man said.

The process of relocating the monument started Thursday with a public hearing. Now, the process moves to a 30-day period where other groups can offer to take or buy the monument.

In the meantime, council also directed city staff to make sure that a box of “items” placed in the base of the monument in 1904 is preserved.

In mid-June, Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson said the Sons and Daughters of Confederate Veterans had approached her and several others on council about taking possession of moving the 27-foot-tall monument and moving it to private property in southern Virginia Beach. It’s unclear whether that group will end up taking the monument.

In January, the Historic Preservation Commission’s Princess Anne County Confederate Statue Roundtable wrapped up a three-year study by recommending the city leave the monument where it is and add context and “balancing elements” covering the city’s African American heritage.

However, since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, protesters have vandalized and attempted to deconstruct some area monuments that honor the Confederacy. 

In the interest of public safety, former Acting City Manager Tom Leahy ordered the monument covered in mid-June.

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