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West Virginia Republicans Criminalize Confederate Statue Removal | West Virginia

NFirst half of 158 years since its founding West Virginia – A state created from the fires of the American civil war – remains stuck between the north and south. Currently, lawmakers are considering a bill to protect the Confederate monument from removal and renaming. Supporters claim that they protect the history of everyone. Opponents call the bill “traumatic and mentally tiring.”

At the moment of national calculation of race, the debate is fierce. “We were a coalition. West Virginia was born out of a departure from Virginia, if I wasn’t wrong,” said Sean Hornbuckle, one of the few black lawmakers in the state. .. “We are defending those who want to kill us.”

A bill being considered by a Republican-controlled legislature in West Virginia considers the removal of Confederate statues a crime unless the removal is first approved by the state’s Historical Conservation Department.

Last year about 168 Confederate symbols It was deleted According to cities and states throughout the United States Southern Poverty Law Center, The majority after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

The national shift has clearly given momentum to the West Virginia bill. Chris Phillips, a Republican and major sponsor of the bill, said:

2021 West Virginia Monument and Memorial Protection Act City councils, county commissions, boards of education, universities, and other public authorities are trying to prevent the removal of statues and renamings dedicated to those who participated in the US military conflict. History preservation office.

The bill will affect all military conflict monuments in US history, from the French and Indian War to the Second Gulf War. You can also prevent the removal or renaming of labor movements, civil rights movements, Native American history, or natural disaster monuments.

Anyone who does not go through this process will be fined $ 500 and could be sentenced to six months in prison.

Phillips states that it is important to deprive local governments of the removal of monuments, as history belongs to everyone, not just the locals.

“If you have a legitimate desire and need to remove a monument or rename something in the state, I think it’s appropriate for us to carry out a calm and thoughtful process.” Phillips said. “And involve the historian.”

Critics say there is another motive behind the bill.

“I don’t see any other reason,” said David Freison, a lawyer and minister who was formerly Vice President of Diversity, Fairness and Comprehension at West Virginia University. “There is no Nazi monument in West Virginia. There is no other kind of historic challenge. It’s all about Confederate monuments.”

In particular, Freisson suspects the bill is a response to discussions about the Confederate General Stonewall Jackson’s monument on the grounds of the West Virginia State Capitol. Jackson was born in West Virginia, but fought the founding of the state.

West Virginia was born during the Civil War, when West Virginia legislators decided to remain loyal to the United States as the rest of Virginia left to join the Confederates.

Democratic Hornbuckle Repeated Freison’s Concerns Under discussion about the bill..

“Why this? Why now?” He said. “We all witnessed our country returning to boiling point in the summer.”

Hornbuckle is also concerned that the law will deprive local governments of the power to make decisions for the community.

“It told people that they weren’t a problem anymore, and the people here in Charleston are going to make a decision for you,” he said in an interview with the Guardian.

He points out a recent example from his district: Marshall University students and staff wanted to rename the Campus Education Building. Named after Confederate general Albert Jenkins, a graduate of Marshall. His men captured a free black man in Pennsylvania and sold it to slavery.

The school’s governors’ association initially resisted the name change. They reconsidered subsequent protests after George Floyd died in the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020.

Under the Phillips bill, the school would not have had the autonomy to change its name.

Hornbuckle sought to amend the bill, removing the reference to the state’s historic preservation office and replacing it with “local government.”

House leaders did not vote for his amendment, but Democrats were able to amend the bill, so any citizen could remove statues or rename buildings in the historic preservation office. I was able to petition directly.Invoice Passed the delegation’s house with 70-28 votes.. The majority of the negative votes came from the Democratic Party.

Hornbuckle says lawmakers rely on the experience of lawyers in the room when the legislature considers changing the state’s court system. When they work on an education bill, they rely on the educator in the room.

“But when it’s such a bill, people aren’t listening to historians in the room, or this is the most influential people in the room,” Hornbuckle said. “It’s traumatic and mentally tiring, working for the improvement of all West Virginia people, and you remind you that you haven’t been valued.”

Phillips argues that the bill is not racially motivated.

“This is not a Confederate protection that some people try to accomplish. I’m really interested in preserving history,” he said. “I really feel the risk of losing my historical perspective.”

He acknowledges his interest in history by seeing the statue of Stonewall Jackson in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the hometown of the Confederate generals.

“His military genius is still being studied today, which doesn’t praise him for the cause he’s fighting, but it’s still very important, and certainly very much for West Virginia and the region. It’s important to me, “he said.

However, David Trowbridge, a professor of history at Marshall University, states that many of West Virginia’s Confederate monuments are themselves trying to erase history.

The Allied Daughters Union sponsored a large-scale monumental campaign, from the establishment of the group in the late 1800s to the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century. Statues and shields were part of an effort to change the historical story of the civil war. They argued that the civil war was not slavery, and that slavery “civilized” African Americans. This group helped spread the image of Gone with the Wind with the glorious prewar southerly winds and attempted to portray military leaders as tragic heroes.

“They were trying to erase history. They wanted to tell the wrong story,” Trowbridge said.

Trowbridge created ClioA location-based app that provides a history of thousands of sites in the United States, written by scholars. According to Clio’s entry in the Stonewall Jackson statue that influenced Phillips’ love of history, The monument was erected in 1953 by the local branch of the Allied Daughters Union, just 16 years before the representative was born.

It’s unclear how the monument protection bill will be delivered to the West Virginia Senate. The legislation was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but at the time of writing, the committee had not yet taken action. The regular session of Parliament ends on April 10.

Fryson believes that if the bill is passed, it could backfire. As the removal of the monument becomes a slower and more frustrating process, the general public may decide to take direct action.

“It’s very likely that Celebrity will pull them down,” Fryson said. “People can complain of civil disobedience, and I think I should suggest.”

West Virginia Republicans Criminalize Confederate Statue Removal | West Virginia

Source link West Virginia Republicans Criminalize Confederate Statue Removal | West Virginia

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