Debate, prayer in front of Portsmouth's Confederate monument

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- Another protest over a Confederate monument took place in Hampton Roads Thursday, this time in Olde Towne.

Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe said he supports moving the 19th century monument off of Court Street. There were plenty of protesters who felt the same way. One of them was Danyelle Honore, who was in Charlottesville last week.

"I was there as my friend got beaten. I watched blood roll down her face," said Honore.

She added that Confederate monuments, like the one in Portsmouth, symbolize pain.

"This monument, to us, is our history too," Honore said.

Rowe said if the monument offends one person, that's one too many.

"I'm advocating that we move the monument from this location to Cedar Grove Cemetery, which is our most historic cemetery," he said.

PHOTOS: Demonstration at Portsmouth's Confederate monument

There were others in the crowd not afraid to show and speak in opposition to relocating the monument.

"Where is it going to stop? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson?" asked Phil Sumrell.

"It doesn't have anything to do with racism or slavery. It's a memorial to veterans," said Brian Taylor.

At no point did the rally get violent, but it did get heated.

"There shouldn't be an argument. We're talking about taking it from one place and moving it to another," said Lou Gibbs with the Coalition of Black Americans.

The man with whom Gibbs was speaking didn't seem to agree.

"If you put it in a cemetery I guarantee you most of the population is not going to see it, because they are not going to go there."

The Portsmouth protest ended in solidarity, with people holding hands, as one religious leader after another said a prayer.

Rowe said he believes he has enough support from city council to move the monument to Cedar Grove Cemetery, and hopes it is moved by Christmas.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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