Virginia leads the nation with highest number of Confederate monuments, symbols removed

Virginia

FILE – In this July 7, 2020, file photo, crews attach straps to the statue of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. At least 160 Confederate symbols were taken down or moved from public spaces in 2020. That’s according to a new count the Southern Poverty Law Center shared with The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

PORTSMOUTH, VA. (WAVY) — Virginia is leading the way in the removal of Confederate monuments and symbols across the country.

On the last week of February, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) counted over 160 Confederate symbols that were removed in 2020, and 71 of them were in Virginia.

The report from the “Whose Heritage?” project found at least 168 Confederate symbols that were renamed or removed between 2015 and 2019.

  • 94 of those symbols were Confederate monuments. Comparatively, 58 Confederate monuments were removed between 2015 and 2019.
  • By the end of 2020, Virginia remained the leader in removing Confederate symbols (71) followed by North Carolina (24). Alabama (12) and Texas (12) tied for third place.
  • At least 167 Confederate symbols were removed after George Floyd’s death on May 25, including one symbol in Arizona that was stolen from public property. Only one symbol was removed prior to George Floyd’s death – Virginia replaced Lee-Jackson Day with Election Day in April.
  • While a total of 312 Confederate symbols have been removed or relocated from public spaces since the Charleston church shooting, South Carolina’s Heritage Act ensured that no symbols were removed last year despite grassroots efforts.

SPLC has been tracking the removal of Confederate symbols since the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015.

In the summer of 2020, residents in Portsmouth and nearby areas gathered around the city’s own Confederate monument following social unrest across the country and demanding the monument be brought down. It made national headlines after a man was struck by a statue of a Confederate soldier as it was pulled down.

These events later lead to the Portsmouth council voting unanimously to relocate the monument.

Residents in Richmond are currently awaiting the resolution of legal challenges that have delayed the removal of the Robert E. Lee Monument.

There are still over 2,100 Confederate symbols around the country that are still publicly present, 704 of which are monuments. These include statues, plaques, markers, schools, parks, counties, cities, military property, and streets and highways named after anyone associated with the Confederacy.

If you know of a Confederate symbol in your area or would like to share an update, you can send an email to confederateupdates@splcenter.org.

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