After a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. erupted into violence and ended with the death of a counter-protester, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has directed staff to remove two Confederate monuments located in a city cemetery.
Soglin said in a statement Thursday that a city-owned plaque and stone dedicated to the Confederacy, located in the Forest Hill Cemetery in the city’s Near West Side, are connected to the “defense of the deplorable practice of slavery” and are unwelcome on city property.
“There should be no place in our country for bigotry, hatred, or violence against those who seek to unite our communities and our country,” Soglin said in the statement.
Mayors and local leaders across the U.S. have responded to the violence in Charlottesville by ordering the removal of publicly-owned Confederate monuments, and Soglin said he agreed with those “around the country also speaking out and taking action.”
“In Madison, we join our brothers and sisters around the country to prove that we as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile, and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves,” Soglin said.
Soglin also responded to criticism that taking down Confederate monuments is akin to “erasing history.”
“The Confederacy’s legacy will be with us, whether we memorialize it in marble or not,” Soglin said. “We are acknowledging there is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.”
One of the monuments in question described 140 Confederate soldiers who died in a Wisconsin battle as “valiant” and “unsung heroes.” It has already been removed, according to Isthmus.
UPDATE Aug. 17 12:55 p.m.: This post has been updated to incorporate additional information.