Letter: Worry turned to terror last week

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 11, 2020

These few months of lockdown have been difficult, but nothing compares to last week.

The reasons for these protests, set off by yet another murder of another black man, are horrific. However, my heart is lifted seeing so many young people take to the streets to protest an enduring injustice. I know some of these kids, and while I am so proud of their passion, I worry about their safety.

That worry turned to terror when I saw that a man pulled out a gun and shot it into the air during a protest gathered at the “Fame” statue. Again: a man pulled out a gun and fired it in the middle of a large crowd.

This was exactly what we warned would happen during the hearing held by City Council to discuss “Fame.” This is exactly why City Council needs to follow the lead of Birmingham, Alabama, and Richmond, Virginia, and move “Fame.” Next time, people may not be there to provide a buffer between the shooter and protesters. Next time, the police may not be so close. Next time, the shooter may point the gun at someone.

That statue has morphed from an embarrassing symbol of Jim Crow white supremacy into a flashpoint for public harm. I implore City Council to do the right thing and find a more appropriate location for “Fame.” There is a cemetery waiting for it to watch over the soldiers so revered by many in this community. In a location like that, people could sit in quiet contemplation, instead of admiring it from a car driving down Innes Street.

This country has left the Confederacy behind. Let’s leave it in the history books. As Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said, “Richmond is no longer the capital of the confederacy.” Move Fame, please.

— Jenni Pfaff