Charlottesville mayor calls for emergency meeting of General Assembly to allow cities to remove monuments

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer called on Governor Terry McAuliffe on Friday to convene an emergency meeting of the General Assembly to enact legislature to allow localities to decide on the removal of monuments.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – AUGUST 18: A homemade sign that says Heather Heyer Park rests at the base of the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that stands in the center of Emancipation Park on August 18, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heather Heyer was killed during last weekend’s protest by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and members of the ‘alt-right.’ (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“With the terrorist attack, these monuments were transformed from equestrian statues into lightning rods.  We can, and we must, respond by denying the Nazis and the KKK and the so-called alt-right the twisted totem they seek.  And so for the sake of public safety, public reassurance, to magnify Heather’s voice, and to repudiate the pure evil that visited us here, I am calling today for the removal of these Confederate statues from downtown Charlottesville,” he said in a statement.

A Virginia law passed in 1998 prevents local governments from disturbing or interfering with war-related monuments.

In addition to the legislation for the removal of the monuments, Mayor Signer also called on the General Assembly to enact legislation allowing for localities to ban the open or concealed carry of weapons in public events that are reasonably deemed to pose a potential security threat.

“In a new age of domestic terrorism, we need to re-examine the balance that we strike between public safety and violent protests,” said Signer. “While I am friends with many gun-owners and am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, that right, like all Constitutional rights, comes with limits.  Just as machine guns cannot be owned by civilians in this country (a restriction supported by the National Rifle Association), it should not be acceptable to open-carry or concealed-carry firearms at an event of the sort we saw last weekend.  First, the danger is too great of a catastrophic incident.  Second, it is intimidating beyond any reasonable standard for citizens, particularly members of vulnerable communities,” Signer said.

Finally, the mayor called for the consideration of new ways to memorialize Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday in Charlottesville.

“I believe that we must act to consecrate the memory of Heather Heyer—a martyr in what Senator John McCain recently described as the battle here between our better angels and our worst demons.  In the coming days and weeks, I will propose to my colleagues on City Council and to stakeholders in our community that we take concrete steps to memorialize Heather’s name and legacy,” Signer said.