In Chaotic Meeting, Charlottesville Votes to Shroud Statues

Sarah Rankin, Associated Press, August 22, 2017

The Charlottesville City Council voted to drape two Confederate statues in black fabric during a chaotic meeting packed with irate residents who screamed and cursed at councilors over the city’s response to a white nationalist rally.

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The council meeting was the first since the “Unite the Right” event, which was believed to be the largest gathering of white nationalists in a decade. The demonstrators arrived in Charlottesville partly to protest the city council’s vote to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

That removal is in the midst of a legal challenge.

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Mayor Mike Signer told The Associated Press on Tuesday that city staff had begun working to find a way to cover the large statues with a material that can withstand the elements. The council believes doing so would not violate the state law, he said.

At the meeting, many speakers directed their anger at Signer.

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The mayor tried to restore order, but as tensions escalated, the meeting was temporarily suspended. Video showed protesters chanting “blood on your hands” as Signer stood at the front of the room. Others held signs calling for his resignation.

Three people were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct or obstruction, police said.

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The council also voted to take the procedural first steps toward removing a state of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. City leaders had initially planned to leave it in place.

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