"No Context, No Compromise" read the signs of several audience members at the Aug. 9 Monument Avenue Commission meeting at the Virginia Historical Society, where opposing sides of the Richmond's Confederate statues debate squared off.
In June, Mayor Levar Stoney formed a 10-member commission to take on the debate. “The job of this commission will be to solicit public input and make recommendations to the Mayor's office on how to best tell the real story of the monuments. In addition to taking on the responsibility of explaining the monuments as they currently exist,” a slide in the commission’s presentation said.
A few speakers outlined the need for thoughtful discussion about the statues, recommending inclusivity and sensitivity, but the packed house listened to several speakers express their opinions which often veered into family history, the Confederacy's role in the Civil War, the Constitution and Robert E. Lee.
Moderator Gregg Kimball, the Library of Virginia's director of education and outreach, tried gently to coax the crowd into staying focused, but at times the crowd turned raucous with people shouting down speakers.
Another public hearing is scheduled Sept. 13 at the same venue.