Portsmouth council further discusses confederate monument controversy

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Council members continued the discussion surrounding what to do with Portsmouth’s Confederate Monument during Monday’s work session.

The discussion came after the city manager’s office presented information on the steps that would need to occur in order to move the monument, from identifying funding sources to analyzing the existing structure.

Mayor John Rowe has suggested relocating the monument to the Cedar Grove cemetery.

But several council members expressed concerns over lingering legal questions on Monday.

“I think before we jump into it and start spending public money, we need to clear up the legal questions,” said Councilman Bill Moody. Those questions include whether the monument itself and the property it rests on are even city property, Moody said. He also noted that council should have a firm understanding of how much the relocation would cost.

Councilman Mark Whitaker pressed the city attorney for answers on whether council can legally move it based on state law and other pending cases.

The city attorney suggested discussing particular legal matters in closed session, noting the city would likely face a lawsuit if choosing to move the statue.

It was ultimately decided that council would next discuss the matter during a closed session on September 25.

Both Moody and Whitaker said that the conversation should only be held publicly.