Vice Mayor of Charlottesville and HBCU alum Wes Bellamy is leading protests to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city parkBellamy and his supporters held a press conference in Lee Park on Tuesday.
At this event the South Carolina State University graduate alongside his supporters gathered as they insisted that a statue honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee be removed from a park. The protest was not met with peace as there were supporters of the statue proudly waving Confederate flags expressing their approval of the statue.
Three city police officers were at the conference on Tuesday to ensure no fights occurred.
Tensions over this issue have been high as this issue has become a hot topic in the city of Charlottesville.
The statue was donated by Paul McIntire on May 21, 1924 during a time period in which it was plausible to believe that the values and core beliefs of those in positions of leadership differed from the current leadership. Several current residents have stated that they believe the statue was used as a psychological tool to show dominance of the majority over the minority during this time period. Subsequently, a large portion of city residents have refused to step foot in Lee Park due to what they believe the statue and park represent.
Bellamy feels very passionate about this issue, stating, “A disrespect to one group of people is a disrespect to all, and the city of Charlottesville has a responsibility to help all who dwell in the city feel welcomed, respected, and included,” he said. “For my children, for young people I work with, for the elders, for the ancestors, we have to make amends and do what is best.”
Bellamy is not the only advocate for removing the statue.
A high school student named Zyhana Bryant has also started a petition to remove the statue in conjunction with the help of Bellamy.
In the petition, Bryant expresses how the statue makes her and her peers feel ‘uncomfortable’ and that it is very offensive. It has also been noted that she and her friends have decided not to visit the park because of this offense.
Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer has made a public statement stating that he will create a task force to address the issue. The group will be brought together within 30 days and the process will include public opinion.