CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — More than 150 people came out to the West Virginia Capitol Sunday, standing in solidarity with Charlottesville and also voicing concerns over the statue of a confederate general on the capitol grounds.
In addition to holding a vigil for the victims and city of Charlottesville, the group called on West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to take down the statue of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
“I want people to know that hillbillies do not stand for this type of hate,” Dustin White of Charleston tells WSAZ. “This is an issue that has been laying under the surface for quite some time.”
The group was met with a few counter-protesters, many of them veterans, who say taking the statue down would be an act of trying to remove history.
“What they’re doing is they’re destroying history. They’re taking history away from the kids,” James Chapman of South Charleston says. “Just because some idiots in Charlottesville went crazy, some KKK members and some white supremacists, a bunch of idiots. That doesn’t mean that we’re idiots in West Virginia, in Charleston.”
The group met at the capitol complex for approximately two hours, listening to several speakers and chanting at times.
Everything remained peaceful, although Capitol police, Charleston police and West Virginia State Police were all present.
All requests to reach Governor Justice for a statement went unanswered.
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (1824-63) was a war hero and one of the South’s most successful generals during the American Civil War (1861-65). After a difficult childhood, he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in time to fight in the Mexican War (1846-48). He then left the military to pursue a teaching career. After his home state of Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, Jackson joined the Confederate army and quickly forged his reputation for fearlessness and tenacity during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign later that same year. He served under General Robert E. Lee (1807-70) for much of the Civil War. Jackson was a decisive factor in many significant battles until his mortal wounding by friendly fire at the age of 39 during the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863.