Norfolk council votes to move forward with relocating Confederate monument

The city has asked Virginia's attorney general to provide a legal opinion on the matter

Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander reads a statement at a Aug. 22, 2017 meeting regarding the city's Confederate monument. Credit: WAVY/Callen Clark.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk City Council has unanimously voted to move forward with relocating the Confederate monument from downtown — if it’s legally allowed.

Mayor Kenny Alexander said at Tuesday’s council meeting the city has asked Virginia’s attorney general to provide a legal opinion regarding relocation of the monument. State law prohibits localities from moving Confederate monuments.

“Such monuments have become lightning rods of controversy and tragedy,” said Alexander.

McAuliffe encourages removal, relocation of Confederate monuments

Tuesday’s council meeting was the first since the violence in Charlottesville — and the first meeting since Mayor Kenny Alexander announced his desire to move the Confederate monument from Main Street to Elmwood Cemetery.

Last week, more than 100 people protested around the monument, calling for it to be moved or taken down. Many say they view the statue as a symbol of hate.

“We believe that having the statue here kind of saves a place, a physical space within our downtown, for ideologies that prevent people from coming together,” said Kat Martin.

Gallery: Norfolk Confederate monument protest

Supporters of the monument argue the statue should be viewed as a dark part of history and serve as a reminder not to repeat the same mistakes. On Tuesday, one man said if the monument is moved so should the Martin Luther King monument on Church Street.

“Not destroy it, but to take it to a black cemetery [and] place it respectfully where individuals can go,” he said.

Council took up this issue in 2015 — and voted to keep the statue in place.

The city council is expected to discuss the issue further at their retreat on Sept. 18.