"We want to move when we can:" City Council open to removing city's last confederate monument

Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 10:53 PM EDT
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Walking by, you could almost miss it. Roanoke's monument to Robert E. Lee is tucked away in a stand of trees, hidden behind the greenery in front of city hall.

It was erected in 1960 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and after 60 years, it could be coming down.

Over text, Roanoke City Council member Bill Bestpitch said council wants to "move when we can" on the matter, which could be as soon as "July 6th."

But the process won't be quick, and isn't a done deal. Monday, Roanoke City attorney Dan Callaghan told the council there will first have to be a public hearing.

"The statute requires at least a 30 day notice before a public hearing can occur," said Callaghan.

If council votes to remove the monument, they'll have to wait another 30 days to see if "museums, historical societies, other governments or battlefields" want to take it.

According to Bestpitch, the soonest it could be removed is September 16.

Some in the city are actively pressing council to take action as soon as they can. Two petitions are currently circulating online asking that the monument be removed. So far, they have garnered nearly 6,000 signatures combined.

If the Lee monument is removed, the plaza where it sits will still bear the Confederate general's name. There's also a plaque just inside city limits designating Route 11 as Lee Highway.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.

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