RICHMOND, Va. -- On July 1, the Stonewall Jackson monument became the first Confederate monument removed by the City of Richmond. Then came the Matthew Fontaine Maury statue the following day, followed by the J.E.B. Stuart statue.
Mayor Levar Stoney announced his plans to remove 11 statues in the city, but it could cost up to an estimated $2 million to do that.
The mayor says the money will be taken from Public Works Department budget, but that didn't sit right with city resident and local real estate agent Shannon Harton.
So, he decided to do something about it.
"I just wanted to donate some money to support, to feel part of it," said Harton. "And I started to cast about who would accept that money? Who's collecting money? There's got to be somebody. After days and weeks of trying to identify who would be collecting money, nobody was so I decided I better grab the bull by the horns and start a fundraising process myself."
Harton created The Move The Monuments fund with a goal to raise enough money to cover the entire cost of the removals.
"As a city resident and with a daughter who has been in public schools and using the city roads and city parks, I didn't want the money to come from those important programs. So, I figured it was important to try a fund it at the grassroots level," said Horton.
Harton is partnering with the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust, a nonprofit organization that helps low and moderate-income households maintain permanently affordable homeownership opportunities, as the transfer agent for the funds to move the monuments.
"The board was very excited about the opportunity to play a role, even a small role in the removal of the monuments," said Laura Lafayette of MWCLT.
"No transaction fees at all if it goes through a nonprofit so it saves on that. It just looks better not passing through an individual’s account, and people trust the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust name," Harton added.
Both Harton and Lafayette say it's off to promising start.
"It's growing quickly. That's still a long way to $2 million but I’m trying to stay optimistic," said Harton.
"Everyone can play a role, whether they want to give a dollar, a hundred dollars or more, this is an opportunity for everyone to be engaged in this process," Lafayette added.
Organizers say The Move the Monuments funds will be directed to the City of Richmond, with the explicit stipulation they be spent only on direct expenses related to removal of the city-owned Confederate monuments.
Any excess funds will reallocated to Richmond Public Schools.
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