City Council establishes blue ribbon commission to review Lee Park statue

Group to consider Confederate monuments, communicate with Charlottesville community


The statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Park has come under fire recently, as many Charlottesville residents have expressed their discomfort with the monument.

The Charlottesville City Council unanimously passed a resolution to create a Blue Ribbon Commission to review the city’s Confederate monuments.

The commission will be comprised of nine members chosen by the council. Applications will be accepted through May 27, and members will be appointed at a meeting June 6, Miriam Dickler, Charlottesville City Council director of communications, said.

The commission will meet to examine race and monuments in public spaces and communicate with the Charlottesville and Albemarle communities. However, the commission is advisory only, and the ultimate decision will be made by the City Council.

The commission’s work is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 30.

“Once they provide the midterm report by November 30, the council can either choose to say ‘thank you for your work,’ or they can ask the commission to continue serving in some capacity if they want further information,” Dickler said.

The commission will consider adding context to existing monuments and augmenting the slave auction block sign at Court Square, among other things.

One of the most controversial monuments is a statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Park. Opponents of the statue, who are advocating it be taken down, argue it is offensive and disrespectful, while proponents argue the statue holds historical value.

The Virginia Flaggers is a group of Virginia residents who stand against “those that would desecrate our Confederate Monuments and memorials,” according to the group’s Facebook description. They previously held a rally April 18 to demand the city of Charlottesville keep the statue.

“By Virginia law, you cannot tear down the monument,” Virginia Flaggers member Barry Isenhour said. “You’re just talking about nothing because it’s illegal to tear down the monument.”

Isenhour questioned the purpose of establishing the Blue Ribbon Commission.

“I don’t know why there is a commission. What are they going to talk about?” Isenhour said. “It’s just a waste of taxpayers’ money, and worse, time.”

The Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP did not respond to requests for comment.

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