Confederate Statue

This 1900 granite monument called “Appomattox” stands outside the Clarke County Courthouse in Berryville. Both the Turner Ashby Camp No. 1567 Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Clarke County Board of Supervisors are seeking to take possession of it.

BERRYVILLE — Black people can’t get a fair trial at a courthouse that has a statue honoring white men who fought to keep them enslaved.

That’s what the attorney for Timothy Bias Neal, the Black man accused of shooting at a white Clarke County Sheriff’s Office deputy, argues in a motion to move the statue or move the trial. Erected in 1900 during the Jim Crow era, the eight-foot granite statue is called “Appomattox,” where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865. It features a downcast Confederate soldier holding his hat in his hand. The inscription repeats the “Lost Cause” myth that the Confederacy fought for states’ rights rather than to preserve slavery.

“Erected to the memory of the sons of Clarke County who gave their lives in defense of the rights of the states and of constitutional government,” the inscription reads. “Fortune denied them success, but they achieved imperishable fame.”

In a motion filed Thursday in Clarke Circuit Court, area Public Defender Timothy S. Coyne of Winchester noted the statue is just 100 feet from the courthouse. He said its association with the Confederacy and the “Lost Cause” undermines Neal’s constitutional rights to a fair trial and equal protection under the law.

“A white defendant does not feel the same discrimination from the presence of a statue that perpetuates the ‘Lost Cause’ and white supremacy,” Coyne wrote. “A person of color, however, most definitely feels that the statue of the Confederate soldier constructed in the era of Jim Crow to subjugate African-Americans, creates an environment where he or she feels they will be treated differently because of their race.”

In the police cruiser camera video of now-retired Sgt. Nicholas Donald Chambers from Oct. 5, 2019, Neal is seen approaching the cruiser and firing a shot from a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol at Chambers from about 30 yards away in an apparent suicide-by-cop attempt. The bullet hit the cruiser’s front bumper. Chambers returned fire and hit Neal in the right arm. Neal, 35, of Herndon, faces several charges including attempted capital murder of a police officer, use of a firearm in a felony, possession of a firearm by a felon.

The incident began after Neal asked staff at Nall’s Family Market on Harry Flood Byrd Highway (Va. 7) to call an ambulance for him because he was having trouble walking. But he left the store and was walking on the median when he was stopped by Chambers. Chambers was on his cruiser radio checking Neal’s driver’s license information when he was shot at. On Monday, Judge Alexander R. Iden set Neal’s trial date for June 6.

In seeking removal of the statue or a change of venue, Coyne noted Virginia courts have removed other symbols of white supremacy to ensure fair trials of Black defendants. He cited a judge in Louisa County who ordered the removal from the courtroom a portrait of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and a plaque to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the organization of Confederate sympathizers that helped erect statues around the south in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Fairfax County, a judge removed the photos of mostly white judges from courtroom, noting that defendants are disproportionately people of color — about 55% of state prisoners are Black, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections, and judges are mostly white.

Confederate monuments have been toppled around the nation and Virginia since the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and the murder of Black driver George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last year. However, Coyne noted most Clarke County residents rallied around the courthouse statue rather than repudiate it. He cited pro-Confederate comments at a March 4 public hearing by the Monument Committee that was formed by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors over criticism of the statue.

“A lot of the slave people probably had a better life than the white people at the time,” one speaker said. “If you had an ancestor that was a slave, sometimes you should relish that.”

Another speaker insisted the Union started the war, ignoring the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina in 1861 that began the war.

“The Civil War was about secession,” the speaker said. “They wanted the South’s grain. They wanted their resources.”

The committee in March recommended against the county removing the statue. Instead, it proposed adding symbols of African-American history on or near the courthouse grounds to provide historical context. Coyne said the committee’s recommendations are an acknowledgement the statue is racist.

“If the statue was truly non-discriminatory and simply a memorial to deceased citizens of Clarke County, why would there be a need to contextualize it or interpret it? Or a need to erect or add monuments recognizing African-Americans, or a need to name one of the courthouses for an African-American?” Coyne asked. “The answer is simple: the monument is discriminatory and conveys a message of white supremacy.”

Anne Williams, county commonwealth’s attorney, didn’t return calls Monday before press time regarding whether she plans to file a written response to Coyne’s motion. The motion may be discussed in a pretrial hearing scheduled for Jan. 10.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com

(20) comments

john brown

It was about states rights just like there were only lost tourist at the Capitol being led by BLM and Antifa on January 6, 2021 and the last presidential election was fraudulant ..... tRump republicans, white nationalist and white supremacist lie, lie, lie all of the time about everything. It's in their confederate DNA

WINCBEST

So tired of these comments on here about the Civil War. It is over and History and you are letting people change what should not be altered. This person that shot at a Deputy did a criminal act and has no right to tell you anything about what he prefers.

Doc Samson

Hilarious to read Pr0g-Left rationale! The southern states were, indeed, fighting for states rights, one of which was, indeed, the right to own slaves. Regardless of whether they had won or not, slavery would've been on it's way out. Maybe not as quickly, but people were realizing it couldn't, and shouldn't, go on...

slowe

Bury that statue, and the one in Winchester, in the cemetery , face down, with the rest of the white Christian traitors.

Old Western Man

Clarke County’s prudential decision to leave an American veterans memorial standing shouldn’t be controversial. Much like their revolutionary forefathers the men of the county answered Virginia’s call to arms, assembled on the courthouse green from which they said goodbye to their loved ones, and marched off to war against an invading army from which many would never return. A simple memorial on the courthouse green is the only headstone many of these men ever received.

Today’s woke-dupes have been indoctrinated to worship a Righteous Cause Myth to counter their professed Lost Cause Myth boogeyman. As with most differing accounts, the truth lies somewhere in between. The premise that there existed a section of America with clean hands on the issue of slavery, illustrates much of what ails society today. Neither side went to war for the purpose of either maintaining or abolishing slavery in 1861. The Union went to war to preserve the Union, and the South went to war to gain Independence.

Hermit

"...marched off to a war against an invading army..." Nonsense. How can a nation invade itself? Also, it's pretty unpatriotic(and offensive) to claim that U.S. soldiers, fighting and dying to preserve the nation, are "an invading army."

Old Western Man

Sense. Set aside your perspective and place yourself in the perspective of Virginians of 1861. Virginia voted to remain in union initially, and then voted to secede only after Lincoln called for troops to subjugate the Lower South, who had voted to secede in the same manner as they had voted to accede the union. A right inferred by the 10th amendment and asserted in Virginia's ratification declaration. The men listed upon the Clarke Co. Memorial, were Americans that answered their State's call to arms to defend Virginia and the CSA against an invading army.

"...preserve the nation,..." nonsense. The USA nation would have continued to exist with or without the seven seceded states of the Lower South, or even the eleven total states with the added Upper South. This "proposition" that the nation or that the existence of a ",,,government of the people, by the people, for the people..." was at stake is a fundamental tenet of the Righteous Cause Myth. Both the USA and CSA could have coexisted without armed conflict, and democratic self-governance could have progressed upon separate paths.

Wars have a tendency to be "offensive" events, with all sides usually deeming themselves “patriotic”. Today, it is far more unpatriotic and offensive to defile the memories of Virginians/Americans who served their State/Nation honorably and with martial excellence, than to contemplate unpleasant truths of history.

john brown

^^^^^^^^^^^^

"South went to war to gain Independence" ......to enslave human beings

the old white man is so full of it, his eyes are brown

Old Western Man

[rolleyes]@JB - read more and emote less.

It was northern Black Codes that provided the template for Jim Crow to follow. It was northern banking, shipping, and industry that profited immensely off of the peculiar institution. It was New England shipping under a US flag that imported slaves and exported slave labor produced goods. It was northern industry that refined slave labor produced materials for international commerce. And, it was northern banking that financed all of it, to include southern plantation operations.

Furthermore, sudden and immediate emancipation had a terrible cost of its own as documented in "Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction" by Jim Downs. It provides a largely unknown look at Lincoln and the North's "...root, hog, or die." attitudes to the plight of the newly freed.

john brown

your sympathies for these free black people is overwhelming /s....per your way of thinking, they would have been better off remaining slaves......that your position? very typical of your kind

Robin1

We still have the presumption of innocence in this country and all defendants are entitled to a level playing field when they have their day in court. If this statue is intimidating to a Black defendant and is an influence on potential jurors (which I think it is) then the defense attorney is right; remove the statue or change the venue.

Catherine Giovannoni

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john brown

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anon

Here we go again. Get rid of it. Some will argue about states rights and slavery was going to die. Who cares. The fact that the war was also about slavery, maintaining slavery, and suppression is also "No Myth." Courthouse and courthouse grounds should never have this kind of statue. Blind justice. BTW - the statue committee consisted of three African Americans. They were looking for the most peaceful way out which is why they did not recommend it. They all wanted it gone. One even voted to get rid of the whole statue. The other two were more conciliatory. It still has to go. Sign me as a 55 year old white male who use to think he was not racist, believed in the lost cause, liked these statues. Get rid of it.

Robina5

The Civil War was called the "War of Secession", and fighting for states' rights was its' main objective. As a practical matter, even today many of the states are fighting to preserve states' rights against the federal government's increasing encroachment on the Constitutional rights of the states. No Myth.

USMC2UNC

The Confederacy was fighting for states’ rights. They fought for their State’s right to run their economy as they saw fit. And since the Confederacy was agrarian based economy, its economic survival was founded on and required enslaved labor. Those in power could have never maintained their economic success without slaves.

john brown

yes, the war and the confederacy were about enslaving human beings .....nothing to be proud about or to erect statues of those who fought to continue these crimes and inhumane practices, which included rape and murder.

JEngels

In addition, it's very bad art and should be removed on that basis alone.

KenGordon

Can't wait for the pro-slave state history revisionists to tell us how the statue isn't based on a lie. This statue was built right in the middle of the Jim Crow era and was part of the beginning of the biggest spike of confederate statue creation. I very much encourage readers to look up the "Lost Cause" myth and see the manipulation and revisionism these traitors have been weaving with their sour grapes and poisonous lies about our history.

john brown

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Seems at least one commenter has bought into the state's rights/lost cause nonsense. This statue and many like it were racist symbols of the jim crow era to intimidate our black citizens. Tear it down or move it to the cemetery that contains the other losers who fought to enslave people.

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