Richmond candidate for Mayor, Joe Morrissey, said on Monday that one of his first acts as Mayor would be to remove the Jefferson Davis statute from Monument Avenue.
“The Jefferson Davis statue is a political statue that glorified a failed political organization and championed a cause – slavery – that all Americans now find abhorrent,” he said, citing “how hurtful and painful this statue is to people of color.”
Morrissey said he would not remove other statues on Monument Avenue in Richmond:
To glorify a general, who wore the cloth of Virginia, who fought on a Virginia battlefield, who was born in Virginia, is one thing. But to glorify a politician whose principle cause was the institution of slavery, is a whole other thing,”
Some have questioned whether the Mayor of Richmond has the legal authority to remove the statue. Morrissey quoted a Virginia Judge who said statues made before 1998 are not protected. The Jefferson Davis statue was erected in 1907.
Other Mayoral candidates responded to Joe Morrissey’s announcement.
Mayoral Candidate Jack Berry said:
“We should not erase our history just because it makes us uncomfortable. As President Obama said at the dedication of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday, ‘it is precisely because of that discomfort that we learn, and grow, and harness our collective power to make this nation more perfect.’”
Candidate Bruce Tyler responded:
“It’s important that we rep all aspects of the civil, that is the key to this conversation, we shouldn’t glorify one group over another. The primary focus of this election should not be about the past but should be about our future. We need to concentrate on our children and providing the proper services in schools that we need for our city to move forward in order to make all of our citizens successful.”
Candidate Lawrence Williams said:
“Is this Morrissey’s passion or is he just using people to get headline exposure or he may not realize it, self-gratification. If he was passionate he would have a hammer hitting it tomorrow morning. He usually does not get results so why is he leading people with plans they did not help him develop? We should say focused during the next five years on schools, youth development and quality of life. Our youth will be our monuments of success. Morality will resolve itself in just time.”
Despite his colorful past, Morrissey is in the lead for Mayor, an office once held by Democrat Vice Presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine.