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Confederate monument in Newport News temporarily covered; city requests possible removal

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Newport News Confederate monument.jpg
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Posted at 8:21 PM, Jun 11, 2020

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Newport News Mayor McKinley Price says the city is petitioning the Department of Historic Resources to consider the city's request to possibly remove or relocate the Confederate monument in front of the old Warwick Courthouse in Denbigh.

While the monument is owned by the City of Newport News, it is under a State Easement Agreement through the Department of Historic Resources, which requires the city to get permission from the State Board of Historic Resources before making any changes on the site.

City leaders decided to temporarily cover the statue until city council decides what to do with it. Price says the decision was made in consultation with the city manager and Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew "in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our citizens."

People calling for justice after the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have taken to the streets in Black Lives Matter protests across the nation and here at home in Hampton Roads. Like after the deadly Charlottesville protest in 2017, these protests have led to a renewed debate on what to do with Confederate monuments in local cities.

Protesters took the first steps towards removing the Confederate monument in Olde Towne Portsmouth Wednesday night during a destructive demonstration that nearly turned deadly when a piece of the statue that was torn down fell on one man. Earlier that day, Portsmouth NAACP President James Boyd and vice president Louie Gibbs were arrested for trespassing Wednesday during a peaceful protest of the city's Confederate monument— a move Boyd says lead to the paint and beheading of all four statues.

Thursday, Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander said the City of Norfolk plans to take down its Confederate monument at Main Street in the next 24 hours.

Read Mayor Price's full statement on Newport News' Confederate monument below:

There is a Confederate monument located in the City of Newport News in front of the old Warwick Courthouse in Denbigh. The monument, while owned by the City, is under a State Easement Agreement through the Department of Historic Resources. The agreement requires the City to obtain permission from the State Board of Historic Resources before making any changes on the site. We are petitioning the Department of Historic Resources to consider the City’s request for the possible removal or relocation of the monument. Once the City receives that determination, the City will follow the amendments to the State Code governing memorials for war veterans that will take effect July 1, 2020.

In light of recent demonstrations that resulted in injuries and in an effort to protect the safety of the public as well as avoid destruction of the monument, the decision was made to temporarily cover the statue until disposition of the monument can be determined by City Council. The decision was made in consultation with the City Manager and the Police Chief in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our citizens.
Newport News Mayor McKinley Price

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