Effort to move statue in Lee Park stalls

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- After multiple votes, the Charlottesville City Council was locked in a 2-2 tie about moving the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from Lee Park and Jackson Park.

This means the effort to move the statues is effectively dead, at least for now.

The city council chamber erupted in chaos after the initial vote. Some people got into shouting matches that had to be broken up by police or city council members. The meeting was put on hold for almost 45 minutes while councilors tried to regain control.

Councilor Bob Fenwick abstained from the vote. He said wanted to make sure other efforts to help the community were in place before making a decision on the statues.

"My concern was to take a specific vote and then have people promise me that certain things would come from that vote," he said.

Fenwick said that he hopes to have a field house at Tonsler Park, and that is something that couldn't be guaranteed at this time.

Councilors Kristin Szakos and Wes Bellamy voted in favor of moving the statues. Bellamy said after the meeting that he thought it was a tough situation, and that he was hoping for a vote.

"Things got pretty emotional in there, I think you have to keep in mind that race issues are going to be a very tough topic for people to talk about. I respect Mr. Fenwick's decision, but it's now one of those situations we just have to work through," he said.

Mike Signer and Kathy Galvin voted to leave the statues in place. The council did vote to release the Blue Ribbon Commission on Confederate Monuments from its duties.

There was also an equity package put forward by Bellamy, which did pass the council, and will provide a scholarship for a Charlottesville resident to attend a historically black college of their choosing, GED training, as well as a grant for the creation of ethnic studies in local high schools.

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