MATHEWS COUNTY, Va. — Author's note: The photo used for this story's thumbnail is a stock photo, not the Confederate monument in Mathews, Virginia.
The Mathews County NAACP is asking its local government not to gift the Confederate monument outside the county courthouse to pro-Confederate groups.
Edith Turner, the president and spokeswoman for the county's NAACP, shared her request through a letter written by a legal team: Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
"In a move designed to prevent Mathews County from ever deciding to remove or relocate the monument and to encourage further displays of support for the Confederacy on the public square, the County is considering gifting the statue and surrounding land to private organizations such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy or the Sons of Confederate Veterans," the letter says.
That would take control of the monument away from the county government while leaving it right in front of the courthouse.
The community has taken the placement of the monument to a vote before, but in 2021, people chose not to remove it with an 80% majority.
If the county transfers the monument and surrounding land to a private group, people wouldn't be able to move it using a referendum if the community changed its mind in the future.
"Actively supporting the ongoing display of Confederate flags or other memorabilia on the Mathews Courthouse Square through the proposed transfer creates a hostile and unwelcoming environment for Black families in Mathews County and interferes with the rights of Mathews County residents." the Lawyers' Committee wrote.
The document says if the Board of Supervisors gave away the ownership of the monument, it would lead to lawsuits -- a Constitutional Equal Protection Clause suit, at least.
Turner said it was the NAACP's duty to speak out against these plans, which could signal that people of color who live and work in Mathews were unwelcome.
"The continued presence of Confederate symbols that represent the idea of white supremacy is an insult to all fair-minded citizens of Mathews," she wrote.
13News Now has reached out to the Mathews County Board of Supervisors for a statement. This story will be updated when they're able to share one.