Two years ago, McAuliffe had said such monuments should be untouched because “these are all parts of our heritage.”
“The people that were in that battle, the Civil War, many of them were in it obviously for their own reasons that they had for that,” McAuliffe told MSNBC in June 2015. “But leave the statues and those things alone.”
McAuliffe noted Sunday that he’d made the comment directly after issuing an executive order to ban the Confederate flag from state license plates. He said even that action was “controversial” at the time. But the governor said it’s now time to take things further after that initial first step, given how controversial statues of Confederate leaders have become.
“This was the first step, and now what we’ve seen after Charlottesville and around the country is those statues have very similar significance to what went on when I removed the license plates,” McAuliffe said.
The governor phased out the plates shortly after Dylann Roof opened fire in a historically African American church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine people.
In Virginia, a 1904 law prohibits local jurisdictions from trying to “disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials” erected to honor veterans of war. With McAuliffe’s support, Democratic state lawmakers are trying to change the law to give local governments more authority over Virginia’s Confederate monuments.