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Virginia's Governor, Richmond's Mayor Aim To Remove Confederate Monument

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This past week, Confederate statues have been removed or toppled in U.S. cities. And now in Virginia's state capital, Richmond, there's talk of taking down prominent symbols of the Confederacy. Ben Paviour with Virginia Public Media has more.

BEN PAVIOUR, BYLINE: Five confederate statues dot Richmond's Monument Avenue. It's an iconic, brick-laned artery, lined by million-dollar homes. Now the neighborhood is pulsing with protests.

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PAVIOUR: The statues were tagged with graffiti over the weekend. And 25-year-old protester OJ Knight says the monuments need to come down.

OJ KNIGHT: You know, they represent a history of oppression. They represent a history of racism. They represent a history of sexism. They represent exactly what we're fighting against. Why keep them up?

PAVIOUR: Governor Northam is expected to announce today that one statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee will come down. Democratic Delegate Jeff Bourne represents the area surrounding the statue. He says the monuments are painful reminders of oppression.

JEFF BOURNE: For me and my family, it means that they looked at us as less than, as property, as certainly second - probably third or fourth - class citizens.

PAVIOUR: Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney says he'll introduce a measure to remove the remaining four monuments, which are owned by the city. That's a possibility now, thanks to a law passed by the new Democratic majority in the state legislature. Some conservatives condemn Northam's plans. GOP State Senator Amanda Chase, who is also running for governor, said this in a Facebook video posted last night.

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AMANDA CHASE: It's all about shoving this down people's throats and erasing the history of the white people.

PAVIOUR: Some protesters are also skeptical of the move, saying it means nothing if it's not followed up with reforms to policing. And it's not yet clear how or when the statues would come down or where they would go. For NPR News, I'm Ben Paviour in Richmond. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.