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Bill that would protect statues, monuments passes W.Va. House

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 2:16 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - After more than two hours of heated debate, a bill that prohibits the relocation, removal, alteration, re-dedication or other changes of any statues, monuments, nameplates or plaques on public property passed the West Virginia House Friday afternoon.

House Bill 2174, known as the West Virginia Monument and Memorial Protection Act of 2021, passed by a 70-28 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate.

It includes protections for statues of Confederate leaders, such as the controversial Stonewall Jackson statue outside of West Virginia’s Capitol.

“This is not a racist bill,” Del. Brandon Steele (R-Raleigh) said. “The sponsors are not satanic. This bill sets up a process that we have the courage to have the debate. That we have the courage to take to one another about things that aren’t exactly comfortable, like slavery, like oppression.”

Lawmakers made amendments to the bill Friday. Amendments included, one that noted that schools would not be included. That means county school boards can rename schools as they see fit. Also, members of the public can now petition the state Historical Preservation Office for a memorial to be removed, if their county commission does not want to request the removal.

Those opposed to the bill say the statues serve no historical significance and their purpose is only to honor and romanticize the dark history.

For our previous coverage of House Bill 2174, click here.

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