Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s Monument Avenue Commission will not weigh in on how, or whether, the city should reinterpret or remove the Confederate statues along Monument Avenue by month’s end, as promised.
Stoney set a deadline of May 31 for the 10-person commission to wrap up its work. He granted the commission a one-month extension late Tuesday after a request from its co-chairs, who said the commission was still working to review the feedback gathered over the past nine months and compose its final recommendations, according to a statement posted on the panel’s website.
Stoney “approved the request to provide enough time for the report to incorporate recent public feedback and to reflect a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the issues,” the statement said.
The commission held two town hall-style meetings this month, in which the panel heard from the public. After the second meeting, commission members convened for a work session where they were scheduled to discuss the public engagement process and its findings.
The recent activity was preceded by a 2½-month period during which the commission held small group meetings with religious, heritage and community organizations to gather feedback.
Commission members favored the small-group setting over the town hall-style forum they held in August, which drew more than 500 people. Tempers flared as organizers struggled to keep the dialogue civil and focused on the commission’s task of reinterpretation. The recent public meetings were subdued by comparison.
Stoney formed the panel of academics, historians, and members of the City Council and the community last July. He charged the commission with recommending how the city could “add context” to the statues lining Monument Avenue, an approach the mayor said at the time was preferable to removing or relocating the monuments.
After Heather Heyer was killed and dozens of others were injured in the aftermath of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August, Stoney expanded the commission’s charge to include a consideration of removal or relocation of the statues.
Reached by email Tuesday night, co-chair Christy Coleman, president of the American Civil War Center, said she had nothing further to add beyond the statement.
Under the new timeline, the commission is expected to submit its report by July 2.