Mathews County voters decline to move Confederate monument from location near courthouse


OCALA, FL – AUGUST 19: A Confederate monument featuring a statue of a Confederate soldier is seen at the Ocala Veterans Park in the midst of a national controversy over whether Confederate symbols should be removed from public display on August 19, 2017 in Ocala, Florida. The issue is at the heart of a debate about race in America and a recent protest in Charlottesville, VA turned deadly as white-supremacists clashed with counter-demonstrators over a confederate statue. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MATHEWS COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Mathews County voters have declined to move the locality’s Confederate monument.

Mathews County voters on Tuesday declined to relocate the “Soldier’s & Sailor’s Monument” at the comer of Court and Church streets on the Historic Court Green.

The decision was made in a referendum in Tuesday’s election — 3,781 people, or 80.11%, voted not to move it, while 939, or 19.89% voted in favor.

The county is one of few localities in Virginia that has decided to keep its Confederate statue where it stands.

The voter referendum approach was also different than some other localities in the region, many of which decided to move their Confederate monuments through a vote by the board of supervisors or city or town council.

In June, the Mathews Board of Supervisors decided to move its board meetings temporarily to the high school auditorium after the president of the local NAACP chapter said there was concern about holding meetings at the historic courthouse — where the county’s Confederate monument is also located — because of recent “expression of hateful vitriol” against board members and county staff. Guns are not allowed on school grounds.

In a letter to supervisors, the president said many of those who were disruptive and disrespectful at the meetings were people who favored keeping the Confederate monument in its original location and who had Confederate flags and decals on their possessions.

In that letter, the president also called the historic courthouse’s location adjacent to the Confederate monument “unfriendly to African Americans” and others who support civil rights.

The letter asked the board to hold meetings in a gun-free venue until the November election passed.

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