Bellamy defends approval to move and sell Lee statue

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- On Monday, the Charlottesville City Council voted to sell the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park, a decision that was met with both anger and jubilation.

This move comes at the center of the lawsuit against the city for voting to move the statue.

Councilor Kathy Galvin, who voted against listing the statue as "Request for Bid," says if they move forward with this decision during the lawsuit, it will be the people who end up paying for all of this.

Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy spoke with CBS19 on Tuesday about the decision, saying he was happy it passed.

"I think it's a decision that many people within our community want to be made. You also see a change through some of the things in the budget that was passed last week, which are not just a symbolic gestures, but also a substantive one to make our city a better place," he said.

However, many online were upset with the decision. Many people who posted on the CBS19 Facebook page shared their concerns about the decision, saying they wished the issue could have been on the ballot in November.

Bellamy says the council consulted with the city legal team, and never once considered having the people vote on it in November. He said it all comes down to why people vote for elected officials.

"We're the ones that are asked by the city to make decisions to better the city in the only way we know how. Personally, I feel like the decision to move the statue, changing the names of the parks, and doing some of the things we are pushing forward through the budget, are actually making strides for the first time in a really long time to make this a community for all," he said.

He also called out the people who are arguing the movement is historical appropriation, saying this move is addressing a real concern in the area.

"The fact of the matter remains that we have had racial tension in our city for a long time. Personally, I believe to move forward, we have to take the issue head on," he said.

Bellamy also said moving a statue doesn't change what happened in Charlottesville.

"I think you will never be able to wipe away the history of the city. You look at our over 250-year history: It's so rich, and it's so grand, but there are a lot of dark spots that have taken place in the community," he said.

Looking toward the future, Bellamy says he doesn't believe this will be a decision the city will come to regret 50 years from now.

"I hope 50 years from now, people look back on this time period and say this is when we started to deal with [racial tension]. That we were able to accomplish a lot of substantive things," he said.

To read more about the decision, click the links in the More Stories section.

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