CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Caroline County Board of Supervisors voted to remove a 114-year-old Confederate statue that stands in front of the courthouse in Bowling Green.
Tuesday night’s four-hour meeting resulted in a unanimous 6-0 vote.
Before board members made a decision, submitted letters were read aloud and dozens of county residents expressed their thoughts during the public comment section. Emotions were running high for many speakers as they shared personal stories and thoughts
“As long as this statue still stands, this issue will never go away,” said a faith leader.
County residents spoke on both sides of the discussion.
“It’s a disgrace!” a military veteran exclaimed. “I was fighting for my family and if God forbid, I was on the Civil War field and I died serving my country and I come back and find out that six people decided to remove my honor, I’m sorry, unacceptable.”
One woman said, “It is my hope, it is my prayer that you remove that statue. This is a real moral issue. Together we stand, divided we fall.”
Despite differing opinions, board members agreed that the statue’s placement is inappropriate and voted to have it removed, sending cheers throughout the room.
The Confederate Veterans’ statue was erected in 1906 and board members agreed Tuesday that it will not be relocated on county-owned land. The statue was placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, not the county. WFXR’s sister station did reach out to the heritage association for comment, but they did not reply.
Lydell Fortune led the charge for the statue’s removal. Fortune created an online petition, that garnered more than 2,500 signatures, asking the board to consider its removal.
Fortune said he patiently waited until localities were allowed to decide the fate of monuments, which the General Assembly authorized as of July 1.
“It’s a new day,” said Fortune. “The removal really stands for equality and inclusion. Yesterday was a victory for the entire county.”
Fortune goes on to say that the courthouse statue is an inappropriate reminder of a painful past.
“How can an African American in 2020 feel that they’re actually going to get justice when they have to pass by a symbol of oppression,” Fortune told WFXR’s sister station. “The board of supervisors took the moral step and the correct step.”
Clay Forehand, Board of Supervisors member, said right now they’re not sure of how much it will cost to remove the statue, but they are sending out requests for proposals soon.
The board has a designated 30 day period to decide where the monument will be relocated to and will be taking in proposals from interested entities.
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