In an area still reeling from the violence of a deadly white nationalist march, workers in Charlottesville, Virginia, have draped two Confederate monuments with black tarps, CNN says. A statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee and a statue of Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, which are in different locations, were both covered with tarps as a result of an unanimous City Council vote.
The intention of the council’s vote was to honor the death of Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters at the march. Although the council initially voted in February for the Lee statue to be taken away, the possibility of its removal is now being discussed in court.
“The tarps came in earlier than we expected and we had staff available today to cover up the monuments so that is what we did,” said Charlottesville communications coordinator Joe Rice. The team faced the challenge of finding weatherproof tarps large enough to cover the monuments, but their search proved successful.
"It's a good start," Jamie Dyer said of the covering to The Washington Post. "They do have to go, but it is a start, and I'm glad the city has finally recognized it has to happen on some level."
According to ABC News, the City Council meeting included so many residents angry about Charlottesville’s response to the march that three people were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct or obstruction. Protesters present called out Mayor Mike Signer, chanting "blood on your hands" and believing that he should resign. It was ultimately decided at the meeting that covering the controversial statues wouldn’t violate a state law forbidding local governments from removing war monuments.
Several hours after the Lee statue was covered, two men were seen near the figure with a Confederate flag, arguing with bystanders. The Post reports that a man with a gun strapped to his leg also began cutting the Lee statue's tarp with a knife. He stopped when approached by police, but told passerby that he thought covering a war monument was illegal.
Given this response, it's clear that Charlottesville is still filled with tension following such a violent event. A hearing addressing the law about war monuments is scheduled for Sept. 1.