Lee Park statue may garner City Council commission

Resolution to approve commission scheduled for May

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Going forward, the three options regarding the statue include leaving the park as it is, removing and possibly relocating the statue elsewhere or adding another memorial of late Civil Rights leader and University Prof. Emeritus Julian Bond to Lee Park.

Marshall Bronfin | Cavalier Daily

Charlottesville City Council held a public hearing Monday night to further consider the possibility of removing the Robert E. Lee statue from Lee Park near the Downtown Mall.

Approximately 40 people attended the hearing in order to share their opinions, and city council members discussed the potential formation of a blue ribbon commission. As of now, the resolution to approve the creation of the commission is tentatively scheduled for May 2.

“A blue ribbon commission is a group of people tasked with investigating, studying and/or analyzing a specific issue,” Director of Communications Miriam Dickler said in an email statement. “In this case [the issue is] Race, Memorials and Public Spaces.”

The controversy over the Lee statue began earlier this year when Wes Bellamy, Charlottesville City Council vice chair, called for its removal. Bellamy cited the discomfort caused by the statue to many residents of Charlottesville, who would otherwise like to enjoy Lee Park.

Prior to the public hearing, supporters of the statue protested in Lee Park on Monday afternoon. Many of the protesters — who numbered in the dozens — believe the Lee statue represents an important part of Virginia’s history. In contrast, those who advocate the removal of the statue believe it is an offensive and racist memorial.

Going forward, the three options regarding the statue include leaving the park as it is, removing and possibly relocating the statue elsewhere or adding another memorial of late Civil Rights leader and University Prof. Emeritus Julian Bond to Lee Park.

If formed by the City Council, the blue ribbon commission will work to find a suitable solution, likely from among these options. Commission members will be appointed by the City Council.

“[City Council] will be holding a work session on Thursday, April 28, to discuss this topic more,” Dickler said. “At that time, they may discuss the makeup of the commission; however, they will not appoint anyone until after the commission has been formally approved.”

Once the commission has been approved, it is likely that appointments to the commission will be made by the City Council by May 16. The first commission meeting is tentatively scheduled for June 1, and the commission’s report would be due November 1.

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