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Virginia Division, Sons of the Confederate Veterans react to Norfolk Confederate Monument's removal

Frank Earnest is the Heritage Coordinator for the Virginia Division Sons of the Confederate Veterans. He believes Mayor Kenny Alexander made the right decision.

NORFOLK, Va. — City leaders didn’t take any chances and quickly removed the statue of Johnny Reb on Friday morning in front of Norfolk Southern’s Headquarters.

Mayor Kenny Alexander announced the previous day that the statue would be coming down.  In less than 12 hours, city crews removed it from the top of the 80 foot-tall Confederate monument.

The statue itself is 16-feet-tall and weighs 1,500 pounds.

“It’s sad to see it come down. You got these landmarks of history that have been there for a hundred years or more and all of a sudden we decide that we don’t like that, we don’t like that part of history anymore,” Frank Earnest said.

Earnest is the Heritage Coordinator for the Virginia Division Sons of the Confederate Veterans.  While he didn’t want the statue removed, he said he agrees it was necessary.

“Better that it be taken down and moved to a respectful place and protected than town down like the one in Portsmouth,” he explained. “It’s not our first choice, but it’s a better solution than what happened in Portsmouth.”

Norfolk city leaders said after what happened in Portsmouth, the monument in Norfolk was considered an immediate threat to public safety. Leaders said that is why they had the authority to remove it.

Earnest explained, “I agree with the mayor. You wouldn’t want someone, a bunch of people out there with ropes or chains and just trying to break it down. It would have damaged the monument and perhaps what happened in Portsmouth. One or more could have been injured or killed.”

City Council members will hold a public hearing on July 7 to decide where the monument should move to. One option is Elmwood Cemetery off E. Princess Anne Road. 

The earliest the whole monument could be removed is August 7, according to city leaders.

Earnest explained, “It's fitting because there are Confederate dead buried in the cemetery, so it's a fitting place for it."

On Friday morning, city crews cleaned off the spray-painted words and phrases at the base of the monument. City leaders said police officers will continue to monitor the monument and remove anyone from climbing on it.

RELATED: Crews remove 'Johnny Reb' statue from Confederate monument in Downtown Norfolk

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