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Virginia's Fairfax County removes Civil War markers from in front of its courthouse

Fairfax County has removed several Civil War markers from in front of its judicial complex.

JOHN MCDONNELL/THE WASHINGTON POST

By ANTONIO OLIVO | The Washington Post | Published: November 6, 2020

Fairfax County, Va., on Thursday night removed a trio of Civil War markers in front of the county's judicial complex, part of a broader effort in Virginia to turn a page on the state's Confederate legacy.

Under a new state law giving localities authority over the fate of war monuments and memorials in their communities, the county's Board of Supervisors decided last month to donate a stone obelisk honoring the first Confederate soldier who died in a land battle to the Stuart Mosby Historical Society in Centreville, Va.

A state historical marker commemorating that June 1, 1861, battle — the first land confrontation in the war — will be given to the state Department of Historic Resources. A pair of Dahlgren howitzers that were also in front of the complex will go to the Manassas National Battlefield Park in nearby Prince William County.

"We started today with a Fairfax County that better reflects our values," Jeff McKay, D, chair of the county board, said in a tweet Friday announcingthe monuments had been removed. The items are being stored in a county warehouse until the donations are complete, McKay wrote.

Several localities in Virginia have taken down Civil War monuments or are in the process of doing so, while protesters have pulled down others as demonstrations over racial inequality surged around the country afterGeorge Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May.

But there has also been resistance to those efforts in Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam, D, was sued after he announced plans to take down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Richmond's Monument Avenue. A judge last month ruled in favor of Northam, but left intact an injunction keeping him from taking down the statue to allow the group fighting to preserve the statue to mount an appeal.

And voters in several rural localities in the state this week opted against removing their Civil War monuments. Meanwhile, officials in other communities — including Prince William County, in addition to Fairfax — are conducting inventories of their Confederate markers before they decide their fate.