Fox News Poll: Virginia governor’s race close with two months to go

Virginia voters give Democrat Ralph Northam the edge over Republican Ed Gillespie by 42-38 percent in the race for governor, according to a new Fox News Poll. That four-point advantage is within the poll’s margin of sampling error. Libertarian Cliff Hyra receives 2 percent, and another 18 percent are undecided or plan to support someone else.

This benchmark poll of the Virginia governor’s race comes as the major party candidates prepare to debate Tuesday. Northam is the state’s lieutenant governor, and Gillespie was the 2014 GOP nominee for U.S. Senate (he lost to Sen. Mark Warner by less than a percentage point).

Over half of registered voters (53 percent) are “extremely” (23 percent) or “very” (30 percent) interested in the governor’s race. Among just those interested voters, Gillespie tops Northam by one point (45-44 percent).

With less than two months to go, one quarter of Virginia voters say they could change their mind before Election Day (27 percent). Some 74 percent of Northam’s backers are certain they will vote for him. That’s just a touch more than the 70 percent of Gillespie’s supporters who feel sure to back him.

A majority of Virginia voters, 53 percent, disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president. That includes 44 percent who “strongly” disapprove, which is more than the total percentage who approve of Trump’s performance (42 percent).

Most, however, say the president isn’t a factor in their vote for governor (74 percent). And nearly equal numbers say their vote is intended to show support for Trump (10 percent) as say it’s to express opposition (13 percent).

In addition, 82 percent of Trump voters back or lean to Gillespie, while 84 percent of Hillary Clinton’s voters support or lean to Northam.

“Virginia is a bellwether state, and this election promises to be close,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll along with Democrat Chris Anderson.

“Gillespie is not especially tight with Trump, though, so the race may be of limited value for those who want to see these contests as a referendum on the current administration.”

Overall, two-thirds are happy with the way things are going in Virginia (67 percent). Those backing Northam (81 percent) are 31 points more likely than Gillespie supporters (50 percent) to be satisfied.

The Fox News Poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). The poll was conducted Sept. 17-18, 2017, by telephone (landline and cellphone) with live interviewers among a sample of 507 voters selected from a statewide voter file in Virginia. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for the total sample.

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Anthem Expands Obamacare Options in Virginia to Fill Gaps

Anthem Expands Obamacare Options in Virginia to Fill Gaps

Insurer plans to offer ACA plans in 68 cities and counties Most didn’t have any Obamacare options after dropouts

Anthem Inc. reversed course and said it will offer Obamacare plans in Virginia, after a pullback by another insurer threatened to leave the state with large gaps in coverage.

Anthem revised its 2018 offerings, saying in a statement that it would now offer plans in 68 cities and counties in Virginia. Around the U.S., insurers face deadlines at the end of this month to decide whether they will participate in the Obamacare markets and what plans they will offer.

Anthem had earlier said it would exit Virginia entirely next year, along with rivals Aetna Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc.

Shares of the insurer were little changed in trading on Friday, and have gained 30 percent so far this year.

Most of the areas where Anthem will now sell coverage would have been left without access to any Obamacare plans after Optima Health Plan decided to pare its presence in the state last week. Optima’s change in plans could have left about 70,000 people in 63 counties without Obamacare coverage available to them for next year. The insurer later said it would offer plans in five counties that otherwise wouldn’t have had options.

Anthem has pulled back from Obamacare markets in nine states as uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act grows. The Trump administration has cut outreach funding and Republicans in Congress are still weighing efforts to repeal the law despite a separate effort within their own party to stabilize it.

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The impact: Virginia Tech suspends Tavante Beckett

The impact: Virginia Tech suspends Tavante Beckett

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Virginia Tech announced today that linebacker Tavante Beckett has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities. The 5-10, 221-pound sophomore was listed as the backup at middle linebacker (behind senior Andrew Motuapuaka), so depending on the length of his suspension, it could be a tough situation for the Hokies to overcome.

If it ends up being short-term, the primary losses will be Beckett’s special teams production (though he had yet to record a tackle in coverage through two games in 2017) and getting him game reps to prepare for next season. With limited experience, and Motuapuaka and fellow linebacker Tremaine Edmunds playing nearly every snap for the position group, there haven’t been as many opportunities for a backup like Beckett to refine his game. The longer he’s away from the team, the less chance he has to do that.

If the suspension turns into a long-term ordeal, it becomes even tougher for VT. Motuapuaka will exhaust his eligibility at the end of this season, and his new backup, former walk-on Sean Huelskamp, is a redshirt senior. The depth chart at that position is wiped out if Beckett does not return to the team. True freshman Rayshard Ashby has gotten some time on special teams, as has redshirt freshman walk-on Daniel Griffith. The only depth linebackers (besides Beckett) to see game time thus far. VT signed a big linebacker class – four players – in 2017, and will probably look to playing some of those youngsters, as well.

Long-term, the Hokies’ ability to bring in three linebackers – as has been the plan for some time – looks a little more reasonable with another scholarship slot not only open, but from a player potentially vacating that position. If Beckett is unable to return to the program, it makes sense that the third linebacker becomes a reality.

Overall, it’s probably the best-case scenario for VT that Beckett is able to work through the issue that has seen him suspended and return to the squad. In the unfortunate instance he’s unable to do so, the Hokies have players ready to step up – but they may take a little longer to prepare for primetime than he would have.

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Authorities search for missing plane in West Virginia

Authorities search for missing plane in West Virginia

Officials coordinate search for plane that went missing over West Virginia on Tue., Sept. 5, 2017. CBS affiliate WDTV

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Authorities say they located a small plane that went off the radar while flying over West Virginia and that there are no survivors, according to CBS affiliate WDTV.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says two people were on board the Cirrus SR20 when it went missing Tuesday. The agency hasn’t identified the passengers or the owners of the plane, but says the plane is presumed to have crashed.

WDTV writes that the plane was found in a mountainous area near Jacksonburg, West Virginia, and was being guarded by local authorities.

The FAA says the plane went off the radar between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at North Central Regional Airport in Clarksburg. The FAA notified law enforcement officials in northwest West Virginia on Wednesday morning.

Officials suspended the search Wednesday night because of the difficulty the area poses, WDTV reports.

"After dark, you might as well, it’s really hard. It’s such a rural area. The canopy, the growth is crazy thick. It’s just way hard. It’s such a broad area to search and to search at night, is pretty much impossible," Connie Thomaschek, the assistant chief of Harrison County 911, said.

The plane took off from Georgetown, Delaware, on Tuesday. It was destined for Fleming-Mason Airport in Flemingsburg, Kentucky.

WDTV reports that a husband and wife from Carterville, Illinois, were likely aboard the plane and that it was equipped with a parachute type of device that could have been used in an emergency type of event.

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It could be one of Week 1’s best games.

It could be one of Week 1’s best games.

The Virginia Tech Hokies play the West Virginia Mountaineers on Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. It stacks up as one of the better games of college football’s Week 1.

No. 21 Virginia Tech is coming off a strong debut season under head coach Justin Fuente. The Hokies won the ACC Coastal division and put up a decent fight against eventual national champion Clemson in the conference title game. They lost a ton of production in the offseason, especially on offense. But if they can overcome a relative shortage of depth, another run to the championship game is possible.

No. 22 WVU has drawn some preseason hype, but maybe that’s not fair. The Mountaineers have a talented transfer QB in ex-Florida Gator Will Grier, but they’re at the bottom of the country in returning production. A lot of the players that built last year’s 10-win team are now gone, and Dana Holgorsen has to rebuild on the fly.

Time, TV channel, and streaming info

S&P+ projects Virginia Tech to win by 10, so the computers see this as a more lopsided game than oddsmakers do. But this early in the season, it’s hard to be sure of anything.

The thing about West Virginia: The Mountaineers really are losing a ton. They have 30 percent of their offensive production back and 25 percent on defense. They’ve lost a trio of key receivers — Jovon Durante, Shelton Gibson, and Daikiel Shorts — plus a solid running back in Rushel Shell. The losses on defense are even bleaker.

Three top linemen are gone, as are the team’s best linebacker and five of its best six defensive backs from 2017. That’s a whole hell of a lot to replace, and West Virginia isn’t an elite recruiting team that can just cycle in a new group of four- and five-star players. (Think Ohio State or Alabama. That’s not the Mountaineers.) So maybe WVU will be terrific, and all of these young players will thrive immediately. But that’s a lot to ask, and a first game against Virginia Tech leaves no time for easing into it.

This is one of two major college games on Sunday night, the last Sunday before the NFL takes over the national spotlight. Texas A&M plays UCLA, also at 7:30 p.m. ET, on Fox. Both games seem good, and if one’s better than the other, everyone will flip the channel to watch that one. Landover might be the center of the CFB world for a night.

So the stage is set for a fun evening. Two teams from neighboring states, both ranked, are playing at a neutral site. Both have plenty of talent, but they’re each replacing enough that we’ll learn a little bit we don’t already know.

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Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia: Matchups, keys to victory in battle for Black Diamond Trophy

Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia: Matchups, keys to victory in battle for Black Diamond Trophy

The final game between ranked opponents in college football’s Week 1 may be the most competitive of the bunch.

True, Virginia Tech and West Virginia break in new quarterbacks in their season-opening battle for the Black Diamond Trophy — the first since since 2005 — but Sunday’s matchup promises to be an exciting one.

Here are the biggest matchups and keys to victory for the Mountaineers and Hokies:

Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia

This game could have the highest combined point total of the top-25 matchups this weekend, even more than the highly anticipated Alabama-FSU and Florida-Michigan matchups. Last season, both teams last season averaged more than 400 yards and at least 30 points per game. However, the identity of both Virginia Tech and West Virginia has changed because of new faces — and several departures.

Virginia Tech lost 75 percent of its leading offensive production from last season, including top passer — and rusher — Jerod Evans and top receiver Isaiah Ford. The Hokies must find answers to keep up with the pace of the Mountaineers’ usually high-scoring offense, and that will start with redshirt freshman Josh Jackson.

The Hokies do have a reliable defense that can keep the Mountaineers in the game while the offense gets its feed under it early on. The secondary is one of the strongest units in the country, with headliners Adonis Alexander, Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman.

West Virginia also has its fair share of departing contributors. Former quarterback Skyler Howard tossed 26 touchdowns last season, with half of those going to Shelton Gibson and Daikiel Shorts, also gone from Morgantown. Will Grier will be tasked with replacing his production — if his five-game stretch at Florida in 2015 is anything to go by, he may just be up for the challenge.

Both teams will have hiccups throughout the game while trying to find ways to get their offense clicking — but even with the large amount of departing offensive players, these teams should still score points.

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Oak Park man who disappeared while swimming in rapids found dead in West Virginia river

Oak Park man who disappeared while swimming in rapids found dead in West Virginia river

The National Park Service has found the body of an Oak Park man who disappeared while swimming in a rapids area with friends in West Virginia.

The park service says 28-year-old Abdulrahman Binomran was swimming with three friends in the pool above Fayette Station rapids in the New River Gorge National River when they decided to swim through the rapids. Binomran was last seen struggling and disappearing under the water Thursday afternoon.

The friends were able to make it to shore, according to a news release from New River, but Binomran was not. None of the swimmers was wearing a lifejacket.

A diver found Binomran’s body Friday under a large boulder about 18 feet below the river surface. It was the second drowning in the park in two weeks.

The Park Service said New River water levels and conditions change quickly, and flotation devices are essential for safety.

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Virginia priest steps down after revealing he was a Ku Klux Klan member decades ago

Virginia priest steps down after revealing he was a Ku Klux Klan member decades ago

William Aitcheson

The Rev. William Aitcheson, a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Va., is taking a leave of absence after disclosing he once was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.


A Catholic priest in Arlington, Va., is temporarily stepping down after revealing he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and burned crosses more than 40 years ago before joining the clergy.

In an editorial published Monday in the Arlington Catholic Herald, the Rev. William Aitcheson described himself as "an impressionable young man" when he became a member of the hate group. He wrote that images from the deadly white supremacist and white nationalist rally in Charlottesville "brought back memories of a bleak period in my life that I would have preferred to forget."

"My actions were despicable," wrote Aitcheson, 62. "When I think back on burning crosses, a threatening letter, and so on, I feel as though I am speaking of somebody else. It’s hard to believe that was me."

In a statement, Catholic Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge called Aitcheson’s past with the Ku Klux Klan "sad and deeply troubling."

Aitcheson served with the Catholic church in Nevada before being transferred to Arlington, where he is originally from, church officials said in a statement. He was ordained in 1988 and has served in a variety of positions at parishes in Nevada; Arlington; Fredericksburg, Va.; and Woodstock, Md. His latest assignment was as parochial vicar, or assistant to the pastor, at St. Leo the Great in Fairfax City.

The Arlington diocese said Aitcheson would not be available for comment. Attempts to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.

According to a March 1977 story in The Washington Post, Aitcheson, then a 23-year-old University of Maryland student, was identified as an "exalted cyclops" of a KKK lodge. He was charged in several cross-burnings in Prince George’s County, Md., and other counts, including making bomb threats and manufacturing pipe bombs.

According to the 1977 Post story, state police in Maryland said Aitcheson was a leader of the Robert E. Lee Lodge of the Maryland Knights of the KKK, which had planned to recruit people to blow up facilities at Fort Meade near Laurel.

When officers searched his home in the 1970s, they found 9 pounds of black powder, weapons and bomb parts in Aitcheson’s bedroom and basement. His parents told authorities they didn’t know the explosives and weapons were in their home.

At the time of his arrest, Aitcheson’s father, William W. Aitcheson, said his son was a member of the hate group, adding, "My son, along with others, are just caught up in it. … I don’t know what their thoughts are."

Aitcheson pleaded guilty to several cross burnings, including one in the front yard of an African-American family in the College Park Woods neighborhood and others at B’nai B’rith Hillel at the University of Maryland and the Beth Torah Congregation in Hyattsville. He was convicted and sentenced to 90 days, and ordered to pay a judgment of about $20,000.

The African-American couple, who were newlyweds at the time of the incident, declined to talk Tuesday about the burning cross from 40 years ago. A woman who answered the door at their home said it was so long ago, and thinking about it would bring back difficult memories.

Five years after Aitcheson’s involvement in the cross-burning incident at their home, President Ronald Reagan visited the couple and their young daughter, saying the incident "is not something that should have happened in America," according to a May 4, 1982, article in the Post.

Aitcheson also pleaded guilty to charges that he threatened to kill Coretta King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. He told a U.S. District Court judge that he wrote to King in February 1976, telling her to "stay off the University of Maryland campus or you will die." According to a Post story, investigators said he wrote "Africa or death by lynching, take your pick, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan." He was a University of Maryland. student studying broadcasting at the time.

Aitcheson was described in a 1977 Post article as "speaking calmly, with his head bowed slightly" at a hearing on the King case. He told a judge he was pleading guilty because "well, ah, because I’m guilty." He also faced charges in Maryland’s Howard and Carroll counties of illegal possession of firearms and manufacturing explosives.

He was convicted in U.S. District Court in Baltimore of mailing threatening communications. A judge sentenced him to 60 days in prison and four years of probation.

In his editorial published this week, Aitcheson apologized and said the recent violence in Charlottesville prompted him to share information about his past. He called the images from Charlottesville "embarrassing," adding that "for those who have repented from a damaging and destructive past, the images should bring us to our knees in prayer."

Aitcheson went on: "Racists have polluted minds, twisted by an ideology that reinforces the false belief that they are superior to others." Aitcheson also wrote that "the irony that" he "left an anti-Catholic hate group to rejoin the Catholic Church is not lost on me."

"It is a reminder of the radical transformation possible through Jesus Christ in his mercy," he wrote.

Billy Atwell, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, said the diocese had received information about Aitcheson’s history when he was accepted for ministry under Bishop John Keating. He didn’t provide details on what information was known.

Aitcheson attended seminary at the North American College in Rome from 1984 to 1988, according to the diocese.

Atwell said he didn’t know if a criminal-background check was conducted when Aitcheson came to the Arlington diocese in 1993, although he said more in-depth background reviews have been done routinely on staff and priests since the mid-2000s.

Since the mid-2000’s "all staff and clergy have had in-depth background checks" under policies of the Virginia State Police, according to Atwell. The checks are also done using a national criminal check system of the FBI and fingerprinting tracking databases. It wasn’t clear if his criminal record would have eliminated his ability to become a priest, either in Nevada or Virginia.

Atwell said Tuesday that Aitcheson’s "story of repentance is authentic."

Al Leightley, head usher at Saint Leo the Great, said Aitcheson never discussed his past involvement with the KKK. Leightley found out about his past Tuesday morning, but said Aitcheson repented appropriately in his Monday letter.

"He is a very good priest, very dedicated to his profession," he said. "It’s hard to see all the commotion going on with the gentleman."

Some public Catholic figures began speaking out on Aitcheson on Tuesday, including conservative legal scholar Matthew Franck, a Princeton University lecturer.

"I hope this evidently good man returns to active ministry," Franck tweeted. "He could do important work, especially with his history."

On the diocese’s Facebook page, multiple supporters of the priest praised his decision to go public, and called him a gifted pastor. "A true story of redemption. May God continue to work in and through Fr. Aitcheson," one wrote.

In a phone interview, Franck said, "Sometimes people get involved in a hate group and then have been reborn, and have an interesting story to tell. … It would be a loss for him to just vanish."

A note at the bottom of Aitcheson’s editorial on Monday said he had "voluntarily asked to step away from public ministry, for the well being of the Church and parish community."

Burbidge said "there have been no accusations of racism or bigotry against [Aitcheson] at the Arlington diocese during his time." He said Aitcheson’s request to step away from public ministry was approved.

The Washington Post’s Peter Hermann, Ellie Silverman, Justin Jouvenal and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

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After Virginia violence, far right and white nationalists turn to a familiar target: California

After Virginia violence, far right and white nationalists turn to a familiar target: California

Anti-fascists and far-right protesters clash during a protest that turned into a series of rolling street brawls in Berkeley earlier this year. (David Butow / For The Times)

When far-right activist Kyle Chapman took to Facebook last week urging followers to attend upcoming rallies in the Bay Area, he was downright gleeful about taking the fight to the celebrated liberal bastion.

“Talk about kicking the hornets nest! This is sure to be barn burner,” wrote Chapman, who became a hero to the extreme-right and earned the nickname “Based Stickman” when he battled counter-protesters armed with a shield and staff earlier this year. “Let’s show these intolerant Communist we will not be silenced or intimidated!”

Left-leaning, multicultural California might not seem like an ideal place for the extreme-right and white-nationalist groups to make a stand. But the movement has increasingly targeted the state in recent years, with optics as much as membership in mind.

Seeking media attention and validation for their “us vs. the world” narrative, far-right activists find desired attention and conflict in California, leading to clashes that often end in blood and bruises, experts say.

Some of the biggest clashes have been in Berkeley, where a swath of far-right combatants ranging from ardent supporters of President Trump to avowed white nationalists have engaged in rolling street brawls with masked anti-fascists and anarchists who also see violence as the only way to defeat their rivals.

In the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Va., that left one woman dead and sparked furious debate about the limits of free speech and the need to condemn white supremacists, some of these groups are again turning to California, to the dismay of some local officials.

“I don’t think it’s an accident that Berkeley is being targeted. The home of the free-speech movement. The home of liberalism in academia. A place where they don’t feel welcome,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino. “This is about battles over symbology and turf.”

There have been at least two dozen political events that ended in violent conflict in California in the past two years, including Trump campaign events that devolved into pugilism and clashes between white supremacists and anti-fascists, said Levin, who has been tracking the events.

Officials in San Francisco and Berkeley are trying to stop far-right protests planned for this month. And the American Civil Liberties Union of California this week took the unusual step of releasing a statement saying the First Amendment does not support activists bent on violence.

“If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution,” the statement said. “The 1st Amendment should never be used as a shield or sword to justify violence.”

While the organizer of the San Francisco event has disavowed white nationalists, far-right figures linked to past violence and the Charlottesville fiasco have said they will attend. Anti-fascist groups in the Bay Area — who have been criticized by police for their violent behavior — have already condemned the events as white-supremacist gatherings and vowed to disrupt them.

Experts say those who identify as white nationalists or white supremacists often travel to diverse, liberal areas hoping to prompt a violent reaction. Footage of their members being physically assaulted makes for effective propaganda videos, experts say.

Members of the Loyal White Knights, the largest segment of the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S., staged a demonstration in Anaheim that resulted in several stabbings last year after counter-protesters assaulted the Klan members, law enforcement officials have said. Seven people, all counter-protesters, were charged with crimes.

A bloody street battle between anti-fascists and members of the Golden State Skinheads and Traditionalist Worker Party, a well-known white-nationalist group, ended with seven people stabbed last summer near the state Capitol. Earlier this year, four people were criminally charged in that spasm of violence.

Joey Gibson, who is organizing the Aug. 26 rally near Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, said the event has nothing to do with white supremacy. Gibson is Asian, and the list of speakers for his event includes a black man and a transgender woman. He said he has disavowed white nationalist groups in the past and is simply aiming at San Francisco to reach people whose politics may be at odds with his own.

“There’s no point in going into areas where there’s not a bunch of hatred and there’s not a bunch of misunderstanding,” said Gibson, of Vancouver, Wash. “You’ve got to go into these areas where the kids have been lied to, where the kids have been deceived.”

Gibson distanced himself from violence and the events of Charlottesville, but also acknowledged that added media attention could attract extremists. At least two of the figures expected to speak at the weekend rallies have also been linked to violence in the past.

Chapman, who did not respond to a request for comment, gained notoriety for filmed brawls with anti-fascists and has formed a group called the “Fraternal Order of The Alt-Knights” with the purpose of fighting off counter-protesters.

Augustus Invictus, described by the Anti-Defamation League as a Florida-based white supremacist, has said on Twitter that he plans to speak at the Aug. 27 rally in Berkeley. Invictus filmed himself among a mob of torch-carrying demonstrators chanting “blood and soil,” a known Nazi refrain, in Charlottesville last weekend.

Joanna Mendelson, an investigative researcher with the California branch of the Anti-Defamation League, said far-right groups hold events in historically liberal cities because they expect, and desire, a confrontational response. When their events gain strong media coverage, they tend to return, according to Mendelson, who said such tactics have made several cities in California, as well as Seattle and Portland, Ore., prime targets.

“Targeting progressive bastions is a strategic approach by these groups,” she said. “For where there are flashpoints and conflict, there is media attention and publicity.”

The Bay Area is certainly familiar with that result. In April, hundreds of protesters representing forces aligned with and opposed to President Trump clashed before a “Patriot’s Day” rally that ended with 21 arrested and countless people injured by pepper spray, improvised weapons or thrown rocks. A similar clash erupted in March, and violent protests at UC Berkeley led to the cancellation of a speech by far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

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Virginia violence adds to push to remove Confederate statues

Virginia violence adds to push to remove Confederate statues

As a descendant of Civil War soldiers who wore both the blue and the gray, a Kentucky mayor said he’s taking his own stand — marshalling support to remove two Confederate statutes from prominent spots in his city.

Violence that erupted over the weekend at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, added momentum to a wave of efforts across the South to remove or relocate Confederate monuments.

Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray moved up his announcement in reaction to the bloodshed, which saw a vehicle plow into a group of counter-protesters, killing one woman. The memorials to John C. Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan are perched outside a former courthouse that was the site of slave auctions before the Civil War.

"It’s just not right that we would continue to honor these Confederate men who fought to preserve slavery on the same ground as men, women and even children were once sold into a life of slavery," Gray said in a YouTube video Sunday. "Relocating these statues and explaining them is the right thing to do."

A crowd in Durham, North Carolina, used a rope to topple a statue of a Confederate soldier Monday evening outside an old courthouse building that now houses local government offices. Seconds after the monument fell, protesters — some white, some black — began kicking the crumpled bronze monument as dozens cheered and chanted.

"I feel like this is going to send shockwaves through the country and hopefully they can bring down other racist symbols," said protester Isaiah Wallace, who is black.

Removing Confederate monuments is complicated in Tennessee, where lawmakers enacted a law last year that made any push to remove historical markers harder.

That didn’t stop dozens of protesters from gathering in the Tennessee Capitol on Monday to renew calls to remove a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate cavalry general and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Protesters draped a black jacket over the head of the bust while cheering, "Tear it down!"

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam later said he didn’t think Forrest should be honored at the Capitol.

State lawmakers responded to a previous push to remove the bust in the aftermath of the slaying of nine black churchgoers in South Carolina by passing the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act. The 2016 law requires that two-thirds of Tennessee Historical Commission members agree to change or remove historical markers, up from a simple majority.

In Memphis, Tennessee, city attorney Bruce McMullen said Monday that he plans to file a petition to remove a statue of Forrest from a park.

The Memphis City Council voted in 2015 to relocate the statue, but the state historical commission blocked the move under the Heritage Protection Act.

The statue is at a park where the Sons of Confederate Veterans celebrate Forrest’s birthday each year, with men and women dressed in Civil War-era garb and waving Confederate flags. The remains of Forrest and his wife are buried under the statue. The city has said it wants to move the remains to a cemetery.

The violence in Charlottesville has spurred debates and action on the fate of Confederate memorials elsewhere across the South.

In Florida, sounds of a jackhammer echoed in downtown Gainesville as workers tore out the foundation of a Confederate statue known as "Old Joe" in front of the Alachua County Administration Building, The Gainesville Sun reported Monday.

The monument will be returned to a chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy — the same group that erected it in 1904.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said she has contacted two contractors about removing that city’s Confederate monuments.

In Louisville, Kentucky, a statue of a Confederate officer was splattered with orange paint. Police said no suspects have been identified. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced Monday that a panel will review the city’s public art and make a list of places linked to bigotry, racism or slavery.

Elsewhere in Kentucky, an NAACP leader said the group will step up efforts to remove a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the state Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.

"He was a traitor," said the activist, Raoul Cunningham.

In Lexington, meanwhile, Gray proposes moving the statues to a veterans’ park, and wants to add two Union memorials there — to symbolize Kentucky’s divided allegiance during the Civil War.

Gray said he understands the value of preserving history, noting that he grew up hearing stories of his great-great uncles who fought at the Battle of Shiloh — two for the Union and one for the Confederacy.

But he said "it’s time to stand up for what’s right. Let’s remember what our country is all about — liberty, freedom and justice for all. And that means for everyone."


Associated Press Writer Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee and Jonathan Drew in Durham, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

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