Feedback
News

Two Confederate Statues in Charlottesville Covered in Black in Mourning for Heather Heyer

Workers covered a statue of Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a black tarp on Wednesday afternoon in a symbol of mourning for the woman who was killed after a white nationalist rally earlier this month.

A small crowd cheered as crews covered the statue of the Confederate general riding a horse, shrouding it in black, memorializing the death of Heather Heyer, who died on Aug. 12 after a white nationalist plowed into a crowd with his car.

Onlookers took photos and video as workers used ropes and poles to cover the statue.

After the statue of Lee was covered, workers moved on to a statue of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, which they also covered with a black tarp.

Heyer was among those counter-protesting the “Unite the Right” rally, in which a swarm of white supremacists, white nationalist and Nazi sympathizers, descended on Charlottesville.

Robert E. Lee Statue Covered in Charlottesville 1:14

The rally is believed to be the largest gathering of white nationalists in the last decade.

James Alex Fields Jr., who drove the car into the crowd, has been charged with second-degree murder in her death.

Related: Mother of Charlottesville Victim Heather Heyer Says She Won’t Meet President Trump

The city council voted early Tuesday to drape the Lee and Jackson statues.

That vote came during a chaotic meeting packed with irate residents who screamed and cursed at councilors over the city's response to the rally, the AP reported.

It was the first meeting held by the city council since the “Unite the Right” rally.

Later in the afternoon, local resident John Miska — sporting a long white beard, a tie-dye shirt, and a pistol strapped to his thigh — attempted to cut down the tarp with a knife.

The effort was ultimately unsuccessful, though he told reporters the cover was a "desecration" — and added that he was not with either "side."

He said he was at the rally and counter-protests in Charlottesville earlier in the month and "I told both sides to go f-k themselves."

Miska went on to describe Heyer as a woman "playing in traffic" and called slavery "the birth defect of America."

The argument over Charlottesville's monument stretches back to the council's vote earlier this year to take down the Lee statue. That decision is currently halted by a legal challenge, and a judge has issued an injunction preventing the city from removing the Lee statue while the lawsuit plays out.

Confederate statues have begun to come down across the United States. Statues in cities like New Orleans were removed prior to the rally, but many more have been taken down after the flashpoint rally.

Following the violence in Charlottesville, Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray announced plans to move two Confederate statues from a public area. And in Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan called for removing a statue of Confederate-era Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney from state house grounds.

Image:
City workers drape a tarp over the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation park in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 23. Steve Helber / AP

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper called for his state to stop "glorify[ing] a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery."

Two cities in Florida — Jacksonville and Gainesville — began moving on initiatives to remove controversial Confederate statues.

Conflict over the statues, which was the premise of the "Unite the Right" rally, has lead to a national debate over the statues.

That debate further intensified after President Donald Trump failed to initially condemn white supremacy by name. Trump condemned white supremacy and racism, but seemed to, again, pivot once more back to his original stance, saying blame was shared by both sides.

He also praised the Confederate statues, saying the are a part of American history.

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” the president wrote on Twitter. “You can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”

Trump's response to Charlottesville led to the dissolving of two of his economic advisory councils after a drove of CEOs resigned in response to his comments.