What would Robert E. Lee say?
We tried to check in with the man at the center of the current controversies taking place in the eponymous Lee Park, but since he’s been dead for 147 years, we instead asked Lexington author David Cox, who just published The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee, to channel what he thinks the General’s response to our questions would be.
To white nationalists assembling at his statue’s feet: “I think he would be appalled.”
To statues commemorating the Lost Cause: Lee was asked to identify battle sites at Gettysburg for monuments, and he refused. He advised “not to keep open the sores of war” and instead to “obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.” Says Cox, “He’d be a terrible poster boy for the Lost Cause because he wanted the nation to put the war behind us.” After the Civil War, Lee changed and became the South’s chief proponent of peace and reconciliation, he says.
To statues erected of him: “He was very humble. He’d oppose them.”
To demonstrations in Lee Park: He’d oppose on both sides because they arouse passion and continued partisanship, “particularly those trying to preserve the Lost Cause.”
To white nationalism: He shared the sense of racial superiority most white people had in that day, but he also dissipated two lynch mobs in Lexington, says Cox. “He’s not a racial supremacist in the style of these recent protests.”
“It isn’t Richard Spencer calling the cops on me for farming while black. It’s nervous white women in yoga pants with ‘I’m with Her’ and ‘Coexist’ stickers on their German SUVs.”—Sylvanaqua Farms owner Chris Newman in a viral May 17 Facebook post
Gene Washington, charged with the 2014 murders of special education teacher Robin Aldridge and her daughter, Mani, will take a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial this September for the slayings, ordered Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Rick Moore on May 22. Results must be in by his next scheduled hearing on June 21.
Couple indicted in 4-year-old’s death
A grand jury indicted Heather Massey, 27, and Nicholas J. Stoia, 25, May 22 in the death of Cole James Clark May 15 in Orange when the child shot himself with a handgun in the home of his daycare provider. Massey faces five felony counts and four misdemeanors, and Stoia, a Stafford County sheriff’s deputy recruit, faces one felony and four misdemeanor charges.
Police report a suicidal 22-year-old UVA student was spotted atop a crane near West Main and 11th Street SE around 10:40pm May 19 and was aloft for nearly four hours, before descending safely when two crisis team members prepared to ascend. The young man was hospitalized for evaluation under an emergency custody order.
No redeeming architectural value
The Board of Architectural Review okayed a demolition permit May 16 for the Clock Shop of Virginia on Water Street. Built in 1950, the property was bought by Black Bear Properties LLC for $450,000 last summer, and Hunter Craig signed the demo permit, Charlottesville Tomorrow reports.
Monticello trail closed
If a hike around TJ’s homestead is on your calendar, be aware that a portion of the Saunders-Monticello Trail is currently closed.
Trail manager Julie Roller says during recent spring storms, two trees fell across the boardwalk and caused structural damage in both locations.
Currently, the upper portion of the trail, which winds up to Monticello, is closed from the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center, but the lower portion is open until the fourth boardwalk. The entire trail is scheduled to reopen by mid-June.
Other hot spots, including the Pond Trail, seven miles of Rustic Trails and Secluded Farm, are still open. “It’s a great opportunity to explore somewhere new,” Roller says.
In other trail news, a group of UVA urban and environmental planning master’s degree students presented a study called “Charlottesville to Monticello & Beyond” to community stakeholders May 12. The team has come up with four potential routes to connect the city to the Saunders-Monticello Trail to improve pedestrian and bicycle connectivity.