UPDATE: Since publishing this story, the city of Charlottesville has announced that its two Confederate statues will be removed at some point Saturday.
Charlottesville’s officials say they won’t give the community any advanced warning before removing the city’s two Confederate monuments — though, legally, they could come down as soon as Thursday night.
The reason is public safety, said City Councilor Sena Magill.
“We’re keeping it real quiet because of safety,” Magill told Charlottesville Tomorrow. “I’m not even sure when they’re coming down. I think it will be sooner rather than later. I’m hoping they go gently into that dark night.”
On Wednesday, the City Council held a special meeting during which they appropriated $1 million to remove and store the statues of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Market Street Park; Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in Court Square Park; and a statue of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacajawea that sits in the intersection of West Main and Ridge streets.
At that same meeting, the council gave City Manager Chip Boyles the authority to remove the statues at any time on or after Thursday — without informing them.
Citing public safety concerns, Boyles on Thursday declined to give details on when the monuments would be removed.
On Wednesday, city crews closed parking near Market Street Park to trim back trees surrounding the Lee statue.
Once the monuments are down, they will be put into storage at an undisclosed location while the council considers their fate, Magill said.
Per state law, the council was required to field offers from people and organizations interested in taking the statues. As of Thursday evening, the city had received 10 offers, six from out of state and four in-state.
Officials declined to release the identities of the interested parties. A Charlottesville Tomorrow Freedom of Information Act Request for the written offer letters has not been filled. Per state law, the city has until Wednesday to fill it.
The council is not required to give the statues to anyone.
“You don’t want them to end up somewhere where they’re just going to be venerated or serve as continued celebrations of the Confederacy,” Councilor Michael Payne said. “And now, the events of Aug. 11-12, 2017, is really bound up with the history of these statues, as well.”
Payne added that it could take “some time” for the council to determine a final use for the statues.