Mayor Kenny Alexander said he supports moving Norfolk's Confederate monument from downtown to Elmwood Cemetery, as a protest is planned at the site Wednesday afternoon.
At 4 p.m., people will gather at the statue named Johnny Reb at the southeast corner of Commercial Place and East Main Street.
The monument was put up in 1907 and moved slightly to its current location in 1971.
Norfolk's previous City Council, of which Alexander was not a member, unanimously agreed in 2015 to keep the monument where it is. Five of the eight who made that decision remain on the council.
But Alexander, who took office last year, said downtown is no longer the place for a monument that some see as a symbol of hate.
The Confederate flag, which is featured on the statue's base, is "used as a symbol of hate, intolerance,” the mayor said. “It’s used … to intimidate.”
The structure is engraved "Our Confederate Dead," and Alexander said it’s appropriate to remember Norfolk residents who lost their lives in the Civil War, but the appropriate place is in a cemetery. He noted people from here fought to preserve the Union as well, including Sgt. William Carney, a Norfolk native who was the first black recipient of the Medal of Honor.
The planned protest, called "Disrupt Confederate Monuments," is organized by Disrupt Norfolk VA, an organization that aims to "create a safer space for strengthening affinity groups, sharing projects and discussing the topics we care to organize around," according to its Facebook page.