VIRGINIA

Loudoun County's Confederate statue creates controversy

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A proposal by a Leesburg attorney to remove a statue honoring Confederate soldiers from the property of Loudoun County's courthouse is causing a stir.

Photo: Tom Roussey/ABC7

On Wednesday the Loudoun Times-Mirror published an opinion piece by attorney John Flannery in which he calls for the statue's removal.

"I'm a person of law, or I wouldn't be upset about this symbol, which represents lawlessness," Flannery told ABC7 while standing near the statue.

"If this entire place was a memorial of some kind, you could look at it differently. If it was at a battlefield even I suppose -- but this is a court of law."

But many we talked to in Leesburg are adamantly opposed to removing the statue from where it stands in front of the county's historic courthouse.

"It's a part of our heritage, and it's important to remember what happened," said Leesburg resident Staci Greenspon.

Flannery says some of his clients have felt uncomfortable after seeing the statue on the courthouse grounds.

"If you're a person of color and your approaching this courthouse, this represents disunion, a disrespect for the law, and slavery," he said.

But many in Loudoun County disagree.

"The people that fought from Loudoun County were probably fighting for Loudoun County, and not slavery," said Richard Gallagher. "It doesn't represent racism, but it is part of our past."

Several African-Americans we talked to who live in Leesburg agreed that the statue should stay up.

"It's just a memorial, it's just history," said Sincere Kirabo. "That's the way I see it. So I don't take offense to it at all."

"What are you going to do, change everything?" said Kelvin Bell. "You can't change the history of what's already happened. They should leave it alone. It's a good example to show what has happened and talk about it."

Flannery says removing the statue would likely require a combined effort from court officials and Loudoun County's board of supervisors.

Unlike nearby Prince William County, Loudoun didn't play host to any major battles during the Civil War. It was the site, however, for the somewhat well-known Battle of Ball's Bluff.

Union troops had hoped to capture Leesburg, but instead encountered disaster at Ball's Bluff, which rises above the Potomac a couple miles from the town.

Loudoun was seen as important during the Civil War in part due to its location on the border with Maryland, which was under Union control but was also a slave state with divided loyalties.

Loudoun itself had divided loyalties. According to loudounhistory.org, many people living in its north and west were Quakers and Germans from Pennsylvania at the start of the Civil War. They largely supported the Union.

But the eastern and southern sections of Loudoun featured a lot of planters with large properties, and their sympathies largely were with the Confederacy.

Loudoun supplied many troops to the Confederate army, but there were also residents who went to Maryland and joined the Union army.

In addition to bordering Union-controlled Maryland, Loudoun also bordered Union-controlled West Virginia, which broke off from Virginia because residents didn't want to join the Confederacy with the rest of the state.

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