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Republican Calls To Take Down Statue of Former Gov. Harry Byrd

Statue at Virginia State Capitol
The statue of former Gov. Harry Byrd. (Photo: Craig Carper/VPM News)

One of the General Assembly’s newest Republican delegates introduced a bill to remove a statue of Democratic governor and segregationist Harry Byrd Sr., from Capitol Square. But the bill is a political jab aimed at Democrats, not a move to address Virginia’s racist past.

Newly empowered Virginia Democrats are pushing legislation this year to give cities the authority to remove Confederate War memorials. Governor Ralph Northam is throwing his support behind that legislation. He’s also backing a bill to ask for the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue at the United States Capitol. 

Del. Wendell Walker (R - Lynchburg) is opposed to those plans. He said the monuments are part of Virginia’s history and should stay. 

“But if they want to start taking down the Confederate statues, the statues of our previous presidents, then I’m prepared likewise to do the same for those of the opposite political party,” Walker said.  

Walker said he proposed a bill to take down the statue of Harry Byrd, Sr. because he said Democrats aren’t talking about removing the memorial. Byrd led massive resistance to federally-mandated school desegregation.

Governor Northam declined to say whether he would support Walker’s proposal. 

“If a discussion takes place here in our capitol with our legislators and their decision is to remove Harry Byrd then it’s something I’ll consider when it gets to my desk,” Northam said.