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City council unanimously votes in favor of ordinance to move Confederate monument to Norfolk cemetery

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Posted at 6:01 AM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 22:51:04-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk City Council voted unanimously during a hearing Tuesday in favor of an ordinance to move the Confederate monument to the city’s Elmwood Cemetery.

The monument used to sit near Commercial Place on E. Main Street downtown.

The city decided to remove the statue sooner than the original summer plans due to public safety. The city said, "it was evident from graffiti painted higher on the pillar that individuals were climbing onto the structure."

The removal of this monument has been big news because while some say it represents heritage others say it is a symbol of racism and oppression for black people in this country.

Before the vote, city council members listened to people calling in to advocate for the monument’s move to Elmwood Cemetery.

“We would like to commend Mayor Alexander for his actions to protect both the citizenry and the monument itself,” one caller said.

“This is owed to these young men who were sent to fight because it was their duty,” another caller said during the public hearing. “The City of Norfolk owes it to them to re-erect the monument where many of them lie in their final resting places.”

Others attended in person and spoke in favor of having the monument moved to Shenandoah Valley battlefields.

“I'm the great-great-granddaughter of a Confederate soldier,” one woman said. “I'm here for my children. For our next generations. I want to protect all of our war, historical memorials.”

“If we get it all out to the Shenandoah Valley, that would cause a lot less conflict in this whole state [and] in this whole town,” another speaker said before the city council.

Mayor Alexander said the city now has 30 days to entertain offers to accept the monument before taking any further action.

“We will listen for the next 30 days to see if there's a serious offer, but that offer has to be reasonable,” Alexander said. “It has to be prudent. Not some arbitrary or capricious argument.”

He told News 3 he would like to see the monument moved to the cemetery.

“It's known that Confederate soldiers are buried there, and also, there are other Confederate monuments located there as well,” Alexander said. “It’s a Norfolk monument. This council has made it very clear that we would do everything in our power to have that monument stay here in Norfolk.”

During Tuesday’s hearing, Norfolk City Manager Chip Flier said nothing formal has been received from the Shenandoah battlefields.

News 3 streamed the story live in this story and on Facebook. If you missed it, you can watch it above.

Watch: Officials remove statue atop Confederate monument in Downtown Norfolk