Debate quiet over Confederate monuments in Roanoke

City Council members say they've heard little chatter

By Tommy Lopez - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - More fallout from the tragedy in Charlottesville has involved Confederate monuments elsewhere in Virginia. The debates over removing or relocating them are heating up, but leaders in Roanoke say they’re not hearing any chatter on the topic.

There's one Confederate monument in the city of Roanoke. It's downtown and it honors General Robert E. Lee.

Despite not hearing calls from people for these statues to come down or be moved, councilman Bill Bestpitch said he's open to a discussion.

"I think it's something that we are certainly willing to talk about and have a reasonable discussion around if there is interest in the community for having that happen," he said. "But I think this is something that's better for us to listen to the people than to try to tell the people what should happen."

He and other city council leaders attribute the quietness to both the fact that Roanoke was founded post Civil War and that people get along in the Star City.

"I think Roanoke has shown a willingness to embrace people from all backgrounds to come together as a community in a way that perhaps some other cities may not have," Bestpitch said.

Councilman John Garland said he thinks the council might have to address the debate soon.

The only statue in Roanoke that represents a specific historic figure is one of Martin Luther King Jr.

Christiansburg Mayor Mike Barber said there also aren’t any discussions there about the monument honoring Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. He said that monument went up in the 1880s.

There are statues or markers in two places in Roanoke County. The county public information office said Thursday there hasn’t been any discussion about relocation.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday he wants all Confederate statues to be relocated to museums, saying they’ve become a barrier to equality.

WSLS 10 had the latest on the discussions in Lexington, Danville and Lynchburg Thursday. Links to those stories are located on the right side of this page.

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