Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) was forced to defend his decision to back state and local governments who want to remove Confederate monuments after having defended them two years ago as “parts of our heritage.”
During a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Jake Tapper pressed McAuliffe on the matter, framing the discussion around his 2015 remarks in which the governor declared: “leave those statues and those things alone.”
“When I gave that speech is when I had taken executive action and removed the Confederate flag from all the license plates in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe defended. “It was a very controversial move when I did it because I said, listen, this is a divisive symbol that is on the license plate and as governor, I took executive action. Many individuals disagreed with my action at that time.”
“So this was the first step and now that we of soon after Charlottesville and around the country that those statues have very similar significance to what went on when I took the Confederate flag off our license plates,” he continued. “They are – monuments should be unifiers. They are now symbols of hatred, and I have said let’s taken them down. I do not have the authority as governor. The local jurisdictions do and the general assembly. Let’s take them down and move forward.”
McAuliffe made the call to phase out Confederate flag license plates in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina, race-motivated shooting that saw Dylann Roof kill nine people in a historically African American church.
Now, the governor is hoping to work alongside Democratic state lawmakers to overturn a 1904 law that prohibits local jurisdictions from trying to “disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials” dedicated to war veterans, hoping that the provision can be retooled to allow for Virginia’s Confederate monuments to be dismantled.