VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A Virginia Beach commission is recommending that a Confederate monument in the city shouldn’t be removed, but instead historical context should be added in a new park and a second statue should be erected to honor African American heritage.
The Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission planned to make its recommendation to the City Council on Tuesday, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
The plan also suggests looking into whether a museum could be built nearby to tell a more “inclusive story” of the community’s history. The committee estimated the park and a second statue could cost up to $320,000, but the group will ask the council for an initial $50,000 for the project, the newspaper said.
The commission was tasked with deciding the fate of the monument in 2017 as other cities wrestled with similar questions, and following the violent protest over the removal of a Confederate monument in Charlottesville.
Virginia prohibits local governments from removing memorials for war veterans, but Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has questioned the law and Gov. Ralph Northam also said he supports amending it.
Still, the 11-member commission wrote that it determined that “the removal of the statue, even if allowed by state law, would accomplish little in reconciling differences or promoting discussion on the impact of slavery,” according to a presentation that was set to be given to the council.
In 1905 the statue was placed outside of the-then city courthouse where slaves had once been sold, according to local historians.
A co-chair of the committee said the group decided it would be better to give context to the city’s history. This includes a proposal to build a public park at the site that would include signs explaining the area’s history with slavery.