Mayor calls for removal of statue of Confederate Robert Edward Lee, governor rejects request

August 18, 2017 10:30 pm

The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the center of Emancipation Park on August 18, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia (Photo by AFP)

The mayor of Charlottesville, where white nationalists were confronted by a group of anti-racism protesters last weekend, has called for the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee who led Confederate forces in the Civil War.
Mayor Mike Signer on Friday called for an emergency meeting of state lawmakers so that they confirm the removal of the statue, but his request was immediately rejected by the state’s governor Terry McAuliffe.
Signer’s plan faces another challenge as a law passed in 1998 prohibits local governments from removing or damaging war monuments.
At least three people died and 20 more injured following the Saturday rally in which a car deliberately plowed into the crowd of peaceful counter-protesters.
Signer said the clashes had turned “equestrian statues into lightning rods” and asked McAuliffe to convene a special session of the General Assembly.
“We can, and we must, respond by denying the Nazis and the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) and the so-called alt-right the twisted totem they seek,” he said in a statement.
Following Signer’s request, McAuliffe’s spokesman Brian Coy said McAuliffe won’t call a special session as the issue is under consideration in court.
“The governor hopes the court will rule in the city’s favor soon and encourages Mayor Signer to focus on that important litigation rather than a redundant emergency session,” Coy said.
Following the bloody event, a wave of protests began against President Donald Trump, who has blamed both sides for the outburst of violence.

Demonstrators participate in a march and rally against white supremacy August 16, 2017 in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by AFP)

Two days after the attack, the Republican president bowed to overwhelming pressure to explicitly condemn the white supremacist groups.
On Tuesday, however, he provoked further controversy by calling far-right elements partaking in the demonstration as “very fine people,” further noting that those who had been protesting against the seemingly neo-Nazi groups were partly responsible for what happened.
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