The mayor of Charlottesville on Friday called for an emergency meeting of state lawmakers to confirm the city’s right to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, saying recent clashes over race and the Confederacy had turned “equestrian statues into lightning rods.”
Mayor Mike Signer’s statement came nearly a week after white supremacists descended on the city and violently clashed with counterprotesters. One woman was killed Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd of people there to condemn what was thought to be the largest gathering of white supremacists in a decade.
“We can, and we must, respond by denying the Nazis and the KKK and the so-called alt-right the twisted totem they seek,” said Signer, who urged Governor Terry McAuliffe to convene a special session of the General Assembly.
Charlottesville’s plans to remove the statue are in the midst of a legal challenge. A law passed in 1998 forbids local governments from removing or damaging war monuments, but there remains legal ambiguity over whether that applies to statue’s erected before the law was passed.
McAuliffe did not immediately respond to Signer’s request. Last year the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a law clarifying that the 1998 applies retroactively. The governor, a Democrat, vetoed it.
No talk with Trump
Also Friday, the mother of a woman who was killed while protesting against the rally said that she wouldn’t talk to President Donald Trump because of comments he made after her daughter’s death.
Speaking on ABC’s Good Morning America, Susan Bro said she initially missed the first few calls to her from the White House. But she said “now I will not” talk to the president after a news conference in which Trump equated violence by white supremacists at the rally with violence by those protesting the rally.
Bro’s daughter, Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured when the driver rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators. An Ohio man, James Alex Fields Jr., has been arrested and charged with murder and other offenses.
In the hours afterward, Trump drew criticism when he addressed the violence in broad strokes, saying he condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”
Pressured by advisers, the president had softened his words on the dispute Monday, but returned to his combative stance Tuesday — insisting during an unexpected and contentious news conference at Trump Tower that “both sides” were to blame.
“You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ ” Bro said of the president. She also advised Trump to “think before you speak.”