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Local News in Virginia

Update: Anti-Monuments Efforts Continue

By Rosaland Tyler

Associate Editor

New Journal and Guide

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.

In addition to circulating a statewide petition, the nearly 20-year-old organization recently sent letters to Senator Tim Kaine and Senator Mark Warner urging the lawmakers to introduce legislation that would remove Confederate battle flag monuments and memorials. These items are currently protected by Virginia Code 15.2-1812.

“We are attempting to have this discussion to remove these symbols of hate off of the public landscape,” Roy L. Perry-Bey, director of the United Front for Justice, said in a recent interview. He said the organization has about 150 members in several major cities nationwide.

Despite numerous efforts to stop the flag from flying in public places nationwide, a recent CNN poll shows opinions are sharply divided. The CNN poll showed that 57 percent of Americans in 2015 still clearly honor The Stars and Bars, which was the official flag of the Confederacy from March 1861 to May of 1863.

This means 57 percent of Americans do not see the 154-year-old flag as a divisive or mentally disturbing symbol. Instead this means more than half of the Americans surveyed said they see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride not a symbol of racism.

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Blacks however (72 percent) said the Confederate flag symbolizes racism, compared to just 25 percent of whites in the recent CNN poll. Southern whites (75 percent) described the Confederate flag as symbol of pride while 18 percent called it a symbol of racism. Blacks who live in the South (11 percent) said the Confederate flag is a sign of pride while 75 percent said it is a symbol of racism.

The extent to how much public opinion is sharply divided and does not run along predictable racial lines recently surfaced in Richmond. There Joseph Weindl, 39, who is white, was recently ordered to complete 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to defacing a Confederate monument. He must also pay $200 in restitution.

According to news reports, Weindl spray-painted an L on the base of the monument honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis on June 28. “The “L” was intended to denote that Davis was a loser, according to Facebook postings by Weindl, who has since called his actions inappropriate and misguided,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

No arrests have been made in a separate act of vandalism that saw the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on the statue, according to news reports.

Read entire story in the New Journal and Guide, July 9-15.

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