Stoney’s Monument Avenue Commission reconvening
Public can observe as it discusses its next steps
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s Monument Avenue Commission will reconvene Tuesday to discuss its next steps, 2½ months after postponing its last scheduled hearing because of public safety concerns.
The commission will hold a work session from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad St., where it will outline the next phase of its public engagement process.
Members of the public are invited to observe, but the commission will not hold a public comment period.
Stoney formed the 10-person panel of academics, historians and members of the council and the community in July. He charged it with recommending how the city could “add context” to the Confederate statues lining Monument Avenue, an approach the mayor said at the time was preferable to removing or relocating the monuments.
The commission held one hearing in early August to gather public input. A capacity crowd of more than 500 people gathered at the Virginia Historical Society to weigh in, and many more were turned away.
The two-hour affair was heated, with speakers veering from the question of context into the should-they-stay-orshould-they-go debate. Speakers on either side of the issue jeered others with opposing
views, as organizers tried to keep the event civil.
Days later, white supremacists clashed with counterprotesters in Charlottesville at the “Unite the Right” rally around a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
One woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a man drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Two Virginia State Police troopers died when their helicopter, from which they were monitoring the happenings, crashed.
In the wake of the rally, politicians and institutions across the country announced, or hastened, plans to take down Confederate iconography. Stoney joined them, reversing his public stance
on the matter and expanding his charge to the commission to include a consideration of monument removal or
A few weeks later, Stoney announced that the commission’s second hearing, then scheduled
for mid-September, was postponed because of safety concerns. In October, the mayor’s office announced the work session scheduled for Tuesday. The commission has continued to accept written and electronic feedback through its website.
Since the commission last met, the city braced for a worst-case scenario in preparation for a pro-Confederate rally on Monument Avenue. It spent $570,000 to prepare for the event and pay police officers and other city staff overtime to work during the weekend of Sept. 16. The event did not result in any injuries or property damage.
Last month, the Jefferson Davis monument was defaced with graffiti on successive nights. Police have not announced an arrest in either incident.
Councilman Michael Jones, of the 9th District, in September put forward a proposal asking the General Assembly to grant the city authority to remove the monuments. At Jones’ request, the council has effectively tabled the measure, continuing it Monday to its December meeting.
The mayor’s office announced Tuesday’s work session in October. The commission has continued to accept written and electronic feedback through its website.
The Jefferson Davis monument was defaced with graffiti on successive nights last month. Police have not announced an arrest in either incident.