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Continued removal of Confederate statue shrouds has cost Charlottesville nearly $5,000

City adds orange fencing, ‘No Trespassing’ signs to prevent removal

<p>The council approved the placement of the black shrouds over the statues on Aug. 22.</p>

The council approved the placement of the black shrouds over the statues on Aug. 22.

The City of Charlottesville put orange fencing and “No Trespassing” signs around the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in downtown Charlottesville Tuesday to prevent the repeated removal of the black shrouds covering the statues. 

Joe Rice, communications coordinator for the city, said the tarps have been removed around six times. The most recent removal of the shrouds occurred Monday night by a group led by local white nationalist Jason Kessler.

City Council voted to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee and rename Lee park, where the statue stands, in February. The decision to remove the statue has been at the center of recent violence and demonstrations in Charlottesville, including the July 8 KKK rally, the Aug. 11 white nationalist march on the Lawn and the fatal “Unite the Right” rally of Aug. 12. City Council unanimously agreed to also remove the statue of Stonewall Jackson Sep. 5. 

The Council approved the placement of the black shrouds over the statues on Aug. 22.

Fourth-year College student David Martineau said he agrees with covering the statues, but not the current method. He said he thinks they should be concealed in a manner that is more difficult to undo. He also said the efforts to remove the shrouds are fruitless and unproductive.

“As for people pulling down the tarps, I think it’s stupid. The battle’s lost, the war was lost, it’s over,” Martineau said. “As for a way to stand up to society and what people are doing, that’s not a good way to do it. There are forums for that.”

Rice said the shrouds themselves cost $375.95 each, and the city has purchased 12 over the past month  — totaling a little over $4,500 spent on the shrouds alone. The city also incurs additional costs for labor to replace the tarps each time they are removed.

“Labor costs to replace the shrouds vary, determined by the number of crew assigned and when,” Rice said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “Typically about $25 per hour and minimum of two hours per installation (not including overtime).”

In response to the most recent removal of the shrouds Monday night, Rice said the city put the fencing and signs up around the statues to ensure public safety.

The signs read “City Personnel Only No Trespassing” and “No Trespassing,” and cost $225. Labor to install the signs and two fences cost the city $128.

Second-year College student Grace Duncan said she thinks the city could be spending its money in ways other than re-shrouding the statues. She further disapproves of their removal by individuals in the first place.

“I guess it’s kind of disrespectful at this point to continue taking them off,” Duncan said. “The city’s shown that they’re serious about covering them up so I feel like on the people’s part it’s like disrespectful to force them to keep spending the money.”

Second-year College student Tobi Addis said he recognizes and appreciates the city’s decision, but he also realizes how it upset certain members of the community.

“I guess it goes both ways, like trying to take a neutral standpoint,” Addis said. “I understand that the city’s trying to appease a lot of the population in Charlottesville by covering them in the first place and that’s a good thing to do. And they’re also angering a whole other population.”

Addis thinks the fences and signs may be successful in preventing the removals of the shrouds in the short term, but ultimately he believes lawful force against transgressors will be required to deter future violations. 

“I think it’s going to be a lot more than just putting up a fence,” Addis said. “It’s gonna be, you know, physical showing of force … Because when people are taking drastic measures … they’re usually not to be reckoned with with just words, they’re probably a little bit more physical in nature.”

The city has been unable to remove the statues due to pending litigation. The case will be back in court Oct. 4.

Julie Nguyen assisted in the reporting of this article.