National News

Charlottesville vice mayor: Robert E. Lee statue 'needs to be removed expeditiously'

Posted August 14, 2017 10:23 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 9:55 a.m. EDT

— The city of Charlottesville, Va. is continuing to come together in the wake of deadly violence over the weekend as the fight over whether to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee continues.

Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy has been at the forefront of efforts to have the statue removed. He said the groups who protested this weekend were simply masking their hatred behind their apparent love of the statue.

“It needs to be removed expeditiously,” Bellamy said.

Bellamy has taken the lead on efforts to have the statue of Robert E. Lee removed and, as it holds up a poster with the name of Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car rammed into a group of protesters on Saturday, he is more steadfast than ever.

“You see exactly what kind of domestic terrorism occurs when people mask their hate behind images and symbols such as this one,” he said.

While some chose to reflect near the site of the tragedy, others decided to come to the statue to pray and sing right at the base of what has been a point of contention for some time.

A Charlottesville resident who asked only to be identified as Josh said he understands why the monument is a symbol of hurt and hatred for so many.

He said he snapped pictures of the Unite the Right rally over the weekend and was surprised when he went back to review the images.

“It looked like I was shooting photos of some guys preparing to go out and fight a war. I mean, they’re in military fatigues, they’re carrying rifles. They were not geared up for a peaceful protest,” he said.

For that reason, Bellamy said his fight to have the Robert E. Lee statue removed can’t be to blame for what took place on Saturday.

“No one is to blame except for the white supremacist who decided to drive a vehicle through a crowd full of people. No one invited these white supremacists to come to our community,” Bellamy said.

The vote to have the monument removed happened in February, at which point groups filed a lawsuit and the Unite the Right groups started to protest. The issue is currently moving through the courts.