County Must Apply to Get Rockville Confederate Statue Moved

County Must Apply to Get Rockville Confederate Statue Moved

Council president says county should develop list of potential new locations for controversial memorial to Confederate soldiers

| Published:

The Confederate statue outside Rockville's Red Brick Courthouse

Andrew Metcalf

Two weeks after declaring that he would move the controversial statue of a Confederate soldier in Rockville, County Executive Ike Leggett has tasked a senior staff member with getting permission to relocate it.

Leggett called on assistant chief administrative officer Bonnie Kirkland to put together an application to go before the City of Rockville’s Historic District Commission, a five-member board that apparently must provide a “Certificate of Approval” in order to relocate the state.

Council President George Leventhal mentioned the application and other potential next steps in a memo to colleagues sent Thursday.

In the memo, Leventhal described a “difficult conversation” held Monday between Rockville historians and black community leaders about what to do with the 6-foot bronze statue of a Confederate cavalry private.

One of the members of the Rockville Historic District Commission is Anita Powell, who was in the meeting and who also serves as president of the Montgomery County NAACP. Her term on the historic commission expires Sept. 1.

The earliest the county will be able to go before the commission is at its Sept. 17 meeting.

Amid a national debate about removing Confederate memorials and symbols, Leggett said he directed the county's Department of General Services to move the statue from the spot. Last week, he said he expected to have a cost estimate for the removal soon.

The statue was spray-painted with the message “Blacks Live Matter” either late Sunday night or early Monday morning, in what Leggett called “a despicable act” that “dishonors our veterans.”

The statue was dedicated in 1913 and sits on county property outside Rockville’s Red Brick courthouse. It was moved to its current location in 1971 to make way for a redevelopment project. An inscription on the statue reads, “That we through life may not forget to love the thin gray line.”

Leventhal said the group that met Monday did come to a consensus that if the county does move the statue, it must find an appropriate new location to place it with public input.

The group also agreed that “the story of Montgomery County’s participation in the Civil War must be told, but it must be told from all perspectives, including those of both Confederate and Union supporters, as well as free blacks and slaves.”

Leventhal said he thinks staff from the county and city should work to identify potential new sites and develop “appropriate interpretive information that can be placed with the statue at its new location.”

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