While that decision leaves the City Council with a tough decision that either way is likely to expose the city to an impassioned legal challenge that could influence the future of such debates in communities throughout the state, the commission asked the council to make its decision based on three principles that panel member John Mason described as a “preamble” to the recommendation regarding the statues:
- “The Lee and Jackson statues belong in no public space unless their history and symbols of white supremacy are revealed, and their respective parks are transformed in ways that promote freedom and equity in our community;
- “neither statue should be removed without keeping either of them accessible to view in Charlottesville; and
- “neither statue should be moved without the vacated space being redesigned such that the history of the statues’ design, erection, existence and reason for removal are made highly visible so that this history is not hidden.”
At its final meeting after being convened by the City Council this spring to evaluate the statues and explore various ways the city could present a broader interpretation of racial history and “change the narrative,” the commission decided it would submit both options for the statues to the council.
The commission did not easily arrive at that conclusion Monday evening.
After some debate, the commission also decided to hold votes on whether each statue should be retained in its namesake city park or moved to McIntire Park, a formerly segregated city park named for Paul Goodloe McIntire, the philanthropist who gifted both statues to the city, as well as the land and capital for the parks.
The majority of the commission voted in favor of moving the Lee statue to McIntire Park and keeping the Jackson statue in place. However, the panel also voted 5-4 for the Lee statue to be transformed in its current location.
The commission will present its report to the City Council on Dec. 19.
Earlier this month, City Manager Maurice Jones said he is “quite certain” a follow-up council work session on the matter will be held sometime in the new year.