- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2020

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam called Thursday for letting municipalities within the commonwealth decide the fate of local Confederate war monuments and memorials if desired.

Mr. Northam, a Democrat, made the announcement during a press conference while outlining what he called his “agenda to advance historic justice and equity in our Commonwealth.”

“I am proposing that we allow localities to make their own decisions about the monuments and war memorials in their jurisdictions,” Mr. Northam said in Richmond.

“Our communities must be the ones to decide what best represents who they are today,” Mr. Northam added.

Virginia state law currently prohibits localities from removing or disrupting monuments or memorials erected in honor of any war or conflict.

Confederates made Richmond their headquarters during the Civil War, and Mr. Northam said that Virginia currently hosts more than 220 public memorials honoring the Confederacy.

“Some Virginians view these memorials as an honor to the sacrifices of their ancestors,” Mr. Northam said. “But for many others, Confederate memorials are a reminder of the enslavement and torture of their ancestors. And because many of them were erected during the time of Jim Crow and massive resistance, they are a reminder of the segregation and discrimination of our lifetimes.

“These monuments tell a particular version of history that doesn’t include everyone,” he continued. “In Virginia, that version of history has been given prominence and authority for far too long.”

Mr. Northam made the remarks while discussing his hopes for the Virginia state legislature’s 2020 session that started Wednesday. The session marks the first time fellow Democrats have controlled both houses of the Virginia General Assembly in more than two decades.

His comments came on the heels of nearly being driven from office last year over a scandal surrounding a controversial photograph that appeared on his yearbook page decades earlier. Mr. Northam originally said that he appeared in the photo, which showed a person wearing blackface and another dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member, before denying being either.

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