By Randy Singleton
Community Affairs Correspondent
New Journal and Guide
The Portsmouth NAACP and United Council for Equality held a protest demonstration and march against the Confederate monument located on Court and High Streets in the Olde Towne section of downtown Portsmouth on Tuesday (July 14). The march comes two weeks after Portsmouth councilman Dr. Mark Whitaker and Mayor Kenny Wright called a press conference announcing that they would ask city council to take down the monument and move it to a museum or private property.
Portsmouth NAACP branch president James Boyd called for the removal of the monument from the public space located in the heart of the city. Boyd called the monument and the cause that it represents inappropriate for its current location.
Toiya Sosa, president of the United Council for Equality, joined Boyd in calling for the monument’s removal. Sosa was interrupted several times during her remarks by shouters from the Sons of the Confederacy, who are opposed to the monument’s removal. Sosa and Boyd advocated for racial and national unity, repeating the march’s theme of “One Nation, One Flag.”
After the speeches at the monument, protesters lined up and marched down High Street, with police escort, to City Hall where they attended a city council meeting and called on council members to remove the monument.
The monument to the Confederate dead from Portsmouth was erected in the 1920s after city council gave a tract of public land in Olde Towne to the Daughters of the Confederacy. State law, Virginia Code 15.2-1812, prohibits the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces.
The protests and calls for the removal of Confederate flags and monuments from public spaces in the South have picked up momentum in recent weeks following the deaths of the Emanuel Nine and the taking down of the Confederate battle flag from the capital grounds of South Carolina.
New Journal and Guide Associate Editor Rosaland Tyler, reported recently that the United Front for Justice is collecting signatures on a statewide petition that aims to stop public funds from being used to “permanently care for, protect, and preserve” monuments that memorialize hate and intolerance.
Roy L. Perry-Bey, the group’s director, said in a recent statement, “We believe that the Confederate war flag and engraved battle flag monuments belong in a museum-not located over or on our state houses, on local streets or on state-issued license plates.”