(The Center Square) — The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation allowing local governments to remove, replace or relocate any memorials or monuments on its public property.
Current law prevents localities from removing such monuments. Lawmakers mostly pushed new legislation, Senate Bill 183, so localities could remove Confederate monuments.
There are about 220 Confederate monuments in the commonwealth.
The legislation passed Sunday – after the General Assembly extended the legislative session past Saturday's scheduled completion – mostly along party lines, with support from Democrats and opposition from Republicans.
This bill is part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s justice and equity agenda, which is meant to promote black history and education on racial awareness. He is expected to sign the legislation.
The General Assembly passed legislation earlier during the session that ends Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday and replaces the state holiday with Election Day. Lee-Jackson Day celebrates two Confederate generals from Virginia: Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Northam is expected to sign this legislation, too.
The governor also has created a commission to replace the Capitol’s Robert E. Lee statue with one that expresses diversity and inclusivity.
Last year, Northam faced accusations of racism and calls for his resignation when a photo from his yearbook was released that showed a man in a Ku Klux Klan outfit standing next to a man wearing blackface. He first admitted he was one of the men in the photograph, but later backtracked and said he was neither person.