The mayor of Richmond, Va. — the capital of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War — announced Wednesday that a commission formed earlier this year to add context to Confederate statues will discuss their outright removal from the city’s historic Monument Avenue district.
“Effective immediately, the Monument Avenue Commission will include an examination of the removal and/or relocation of some or all of the confederate statues,” Mayor Levar Stoney said in a statement, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The 10-person commission, established in June with the help of community leaders, academics and historians, originally intended to study what to do with the Confederate monuments, which have been increasingly scrutinized following Dylann Roof’s 2015 killing of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church in order to “start a race war.”
Calls for Confederate monuments’ removal nationwide have intensified after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville Saturday left three dead and 20 injured.
“While we had hoped to use this process to educate Virginians about the history behind these monuments, the events of the last week may have fundamentally changed our ability to do so by revealing their power to serve as a rallying point for division and intolerance and violence,” Stoney said in the statement.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had Confederate monuments in the city removed in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The removal of other statues is currently being considered by local officials in Kentucky, Texas, Alabama and Georgia, according to CNN.
Richmond’s commission will debate Monument Avenue’s statues with community members at a public hearing on Sept. 13, the Times-Dispatch reports. Stoney, while noting the importance of public discourse in the matter, made his stance clear.
“I personally believe they are offensive and need to be removed,” he said in the statement. “But I believe more in the importance of dialogue and transparency by pursuing a responsible process to consider the full weight of this decision.”