Joe Morrissey press conference
With his wife, Myrna, by his side, Richmond mayoral candidate Joe Morrissey announced his intention to remove the Jefferson Davis statue from Monument Avenue if elected. (Photo by Mark Robinson)
It’s time for Jefferson Davis to go, says Richmond mayoral candidate Joe Morrissey.
Morrissey, a former commonwealth’s attorney and state delegate, told a crowd of reporters gathered at a noon news conference on Monday that he would pursue removing the statue honoring the president of the Confederacy from Monument Avenue if elected mayor.
“The Jefferson Davis statue is a political statue that glorified a failed political organization and championed a cause — slavery — that all Americans now find abhorrent,” he said, reading from prepared remarks.
At an April forum held at Virginia Union University, Morrissey said he would support the removal of Stonewall Jackson and other Confederate monuments on the venerable street. On Monday, he drew the line at Davis and said he was against the removal of statues honoring Confederate military leaders.
“To glorify a general who wore the cloth of Virginia and fought on Virginia battlefields for his state is one thing,” he said. “However, to glorify a politician who fought for the continuation of the institution of slavery is another.”
Asked what he would put in its place, Morrissey said that was for Richmonders to decide.
Earlier this month, Alexandria’s City Council voted to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway and request permission from the Virginia General Assembly to remove a statue honoring Davis.
A state law passed in 1998 prevents localities from removing or interfering with war memorials built from that point on. Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a measure last year that would have extended the protection to monuments built before the 1998 law. At Monday’s news conference, Morrissey said there was “no legal prohibition” limiting the city’s ability to take down the statue.