RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Senate has passed a bill that would give local governments control over war memorials, allowing for the relocation of Confederate monuments.
The bill introduced by Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) passed Tuesday in a 21-19 vote along party lines.
The issue of Confederate monuments has been heavily debated over the past few years in several cities in Hampton Roads, including Norfolk, which has already passed a resolution to move its statue from downtown to a nearby cemetery.
The bill would give Norfolk the clear go ahead to move its monument, though Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said last year he didn’t believe current state law applies to Norfolk’s monument and wouldn’t prevent the monument’s removal.
Locke’s bill would apply for any monument or memorial for war veterans located in a public space, regardless of when the monument was erected.
Current state law preventing the removal of war memorials was first enacted in 1904 and originally only applied to counties, before being changed in 1997 to include any “locality.” Herring argued Norfolk’s statue, erected in 1907, didn’t apply.
Just last month, the Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission recommended the city shouldn’t move its Confederate monument, instead, the suggesting the city should add historical context in a new park, and build a second statue to honor African American heritage.
In 2018, a circuit court judge ruled the city of Portsmouth can’t claim ownership of its statue downtown, which made it more difficult to move.
This breaking article will be updated.