Early in February, the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia voted 3-2 to remove a bronze equestrian monument to Robert E. Lee that stands in a downtown park named in his honor. Vice Mayor Wes Belamy, the council’s only African American member, led the effort to remove the statue.
In the end, this vote may be largely symbolic. Those opposed to the statue’s removal intend to file a lawsuit and point to a state statute that says Virginia cities have no authority over the war memorials they inherited from past generations. “If such are erected,” the law reads, “it shall be unlawful for the authorities of the locality, or any other person or persons, to disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials so erected.”