Local activists react to ruling on confederate statues
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (CBS19 News) -- Now that the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that the city can remove confederate statues here in Charlottesville, local activists says this is a step in the right direction.
"This is a long run. When we're talking about race reconciliation, fighting for equity, this is a fight and battle that you don't win in a day, week or year. (It takes long standing commitment and effort and why we haven't crossed the finish line yet, this is a powerful step in where we're trying to get to," Wes Bellamy said, former Charlottesville Vice Mayor and City Council member.
"The good news is that we can get out from under not the trauma but the regime and oppression it represents," Don Gathers said, former chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission in Charlottesville.
Bellamy says he found out this morning through former colleagues.
"I received a text message from Mayor Nikuyah Walker and followed by a phone call from Don Gathers," Bellamy said.
Gathers said he was ecstatic to learn of the Virginia Supreme Court's decision.
"I started knocking over furniture and doing back flips and cartwheels. It’s been a long time coming and its very much mixed emotions,"
Bellamy says this is years in the making.
"1,035 days ago on March 22, 2016 where we had the first press conference announcing that we would be pushing to get the rest of our colleagues to remove the statue and I remember people standing in the grass saying this would never happen. I remember after that people blaming me saying that I'm destroying the city," Bellamy said.
Gathers says the statues should be moved to a museum or battlefield.
"These things were never war memorials. All of the evilness that descended upon Charlottesville was never about the statues," Gathers said.
They represent the continuation of slavery and Jim Crow.
But not everyone feels that way and some believe the statues should stay up.
"I feel like its wrong and it's apart of our history. The statue has been here for forever it seems like. It just seems pointless to take it down now. I don't see how it's racist," Maxwell Smith said, a Charlottesville resident.
City Councilor Lloyd Snook and plaintiff attorney Buddy Weber also reacted to the ruling.