To Protect Confederate Statue, Virginia County Transfers Land

MATHEWS, Virginia – Referendum last the fall on whether to keep confederate statue outside this county’s historic 1830 courthouse sounded loud, with more than 80 percent of voters in service. But some are concerned that the monument public location still not safe.

So Matthews County Council of Supervisory authorities are considering more permanent solution: to transfer the municipal land under the statue into ownership private group such as Sons of Confederate veterans to protect him from future changes in public feeling.

Of all calculations with icons of The lost cause that swept Virginia for in past two years – from Charlottesville, which decided to melt down Robert E. Lee at Richmond lends other bronze generals to the museum in California is new turn, and sign of lasting power of legacy of the Civil War.

Officials at the State Department of Historic Resources said they didn’t know. of any other locality in Virginia explores such step. Opponents say they give control over a public site in private inheritance group sets a worrying precedent.

“For a long time-term the consequences are really far-reaching because it is group could do anything wanted with this piece of land,” said Caitlin Banner, Deputy Legal director of Washington Judges Committee for Civil rights and urban affairs. ” government lose all control despite fact what is right in middle of Historic Courthouse Square.

Lawyers group signed a letter to the county last a week warning of possible legal action on on behalf of of local branch of NAACP. Transfer of land to Confederate sympathizers group sends “undeniable messages that Matthews County Council of Oversight bodies approve of white supremacy and support second- class status of Black people”, the lawyers wrote.

The letter has turned up in heat on the idea that swirled around in Matthews for months. Turnout expected to be high for a public Wednesday night hearing on in general topic of broadcast public property to private groups. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place up specifically a statue, but board members last month – in in face of fiery public discussions – decided to slow down the process.

“Let me tell you something, the NAACP jumped over gun on this thing,” County Chief Dave Jones said. last a week in Interview. It won’t be here vote Wednesday on what to do with the statue, he said.

But not everyone is convinced.

“We are not know what actions they can take,” said NAACP Chapter President Edith Turner.

confusion has built because the last autumn referendum, in county of about 8600 inhabitants, this is about 8 percent Black. Despite the fact that the message of the voters was clear, and despite fact that the statue was not damaged by graffiti or other damage caused by the protest, some residents and district leaders were on crusade to save him from anyone possible future disaster.

One day last week, Jones stood outside old courthouse and said he “never vote to move monument from his place’ although it wasn’t issue.

He denied Wednesday’s hearing had anything to do with the statue and said the flap over handing over the site to the defenders is exaggerated. He promised that he would not vote transfer this monument to the SLE” or United Daughters of Confederation, two groups that built it in 1912 and offered to take it over this is year.

But in a few minutes, the Jones and Matthews County Council of Chairman of the Supervisory Board Paul Hudgins — who It was joined his in shade under the willow-oak – there were a few more vague. Will they transfer ownership to someone else? group who can protect him where he stands?

“We can give ownership of something is not a law against this,” Jones said.

“That conversation will take place later,” Hudgins said.

“Right,” Jones said.

Turner, president of the NAACP, black and teacher. who born and raised in Matthews County. She states her ageover 60″ and said that she in around fourth grade when the local schools were merged. She attended Lee-Jackson Elementary School, named for Confederate generals.

Two years ago, Turner was proud when her daughter made an attempt to rename the school. It is now known as Matthews Elementary School. In response, someone planted a giant Confederate flag. on private property through street.

Confederation battle flags are flown from the roadway along several entrances to Matthews County, fact which, according to Turner, discourages friends and family who power want visit. “But I feel comfortable here because I am from here,” she said.

However, the renaming of the school was an unpleasant taste. of change for some residents of Matthews who looked with horror as the statues approach down in other parts of state.

Richmond, Mr. former capital of Confederation, has removed several Confederate monuments, including statues of Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. (Video: Washington Post)

Ben Richardson, 61, grew up up in Matthews on property It was in his family since the 1700s. Like many in this is countryside of swamps and streams along the Chesapeake Bay, he spent most of his life on water, on tugs and oil tankers.

He had ancestors who fought in War of Independence, he said, and for Confederation. The statue is not racist, it is just history, he said. And the groups that raised it should own it and protect it.

“People just want open up jar of worms,” said Richardson, sitting down outside his carving on Pudding Creek art shop in T-shirt Good Vibes. “I think the statue should stay where it is… and the land that should be given to them.”

The statue itself is a figure of an ordinary Civil War soldier on top of a column. The base reads: “Our Confederation soldiers” on one side and in memory of in soldiers and sailors of Matthews County, Virginia.” on another.

He stands about 15 feet from corner of an old courthouse that adjoins a square with historic buildings including jail and at the clerk office.

Several locals said they rarely paid attention to the statue until 2017, after deadly Rally “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville when people supporting Confederate heritage began to emerge up around the statue show support for It.

After 2020 when killing of George Floyd Minneapolis police instigated national traffic for racial justice Confederates decorated the ground around the base of the statue with garlands. with small Confederation battle flags.

A little in the county objected, and board of guards warned not to put flags in ground because it was public property.

However, for a time it was believed that the statue itself belonged to the SCV and UDC. A lot of of Confederate statues across the state were spaced about century back by these heritage groups, and a handful continue to belong to them despite being on public property.

in Alexandria, for For example, the Confederate statue was taken down on request of UDC and returned to group for storage.

According to research compiled by the staff of the Matthews Public Library, the county memorial topped group called the Matthews County Monument Association made up of seven members from UDC and seven from SCV, who raised money from public to finance it.

But both of these local branches are dead out or long gone research showed. Today’s bands have been recreated in recent years and research found there is no evidence that the statue was ever passed on on them.

AT last months board of meeting of leaders, representative of The UDC submitted a letter that appeared to acknowledge the ownership of the county.

Neither UDC nor members of SCV can be achieved for comment for this is story. But two supporters spoke out strongly at the August meeting.

Bobby Dobson, who is a member of county school boardaccused former Gov. Ralph Northam, Democrat, for mixing up anxiety about monuments and said fact what a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis is depicted defiled and prostrate in The Valentine Museum in Richmond is a “shame”.

The statues of Richmond have fallen. Now these sisters aim to raise up Black history.

“Now everyone seems like you want remove the statues,” Dobson said. Noting that the district referendum in support of the monument is non-binding, he said the Matthews statue needs permanent protection. “God bless the fallen Southerners,” he concluded, “and God bless Robert E. Lee.”

Joey Taylor, President of local branch of SCV, said it group wants to take responsibility of monument, because “we believe that if this is not done, then these people on in left do their job best to destroy it’s because they want”.

Neither Dobson nor Taylor could be contacted. for comment.

Matthews County Administrator Ramona Wilson, who took office in April when the controversy broke out already in full swing, said in the interview she remains not sure about the status of the statue itself. “We are not know who owns it at the moment,” she said.

next step loops on Wednesday evening public hearing. If the residents are completely support broadcast public property to private interests, she says. board will schedule hearing on decoration of the ground under the statue.

If a public opposes this concept, she said: “I think then this just Leave.”

But Jones and Hudgins board members, made clear that the statue itself is not going anywhere.

county going install CCTV, Hudgins said.

“If they want come try to break it down, they have to go through us, and we will take all measures,” Jones said.

“It’s not Richmond,” Hudgins said, “I can tell you.”

Jones agreed. “This is not Richmond.”


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