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Confederate Memorial Partly Removed in Charleston, W.Va.

Eric Douglas/ WVPB
Riflemen Memorial in Ruffner Park in Charleston after the plaque was removed Monday, June 29, 2020.

The City of Charleston quietly removed part of a Confederate memorial Monday, joining other cities and states across the country who are taking a closer look at structures honoring Confederate soldiers and generals.

Riflemen Memorial still stands at Ruffner Park in downtown Charleston, but a bronze plaque that covers most of its face is now gone. 

That plaque listed the names of local men who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. 

Among the names is William Armstead, who is described on the plaque as a “colored cook, faithful during the war.” That reference is one of the reasons the city removed the face of the monument, said Mayor Amy Goodwin. 

“It perpetuates the falsehoods that slaves enjoyed being slaves and preferred not to be free,” Goodwin said. “It’s offensive. It needed to be removed. And we removed it.”

Goodwin said the city will put a new plaque in its place, describing the history of Ruffner Park. 

The Riflemen Memorial was built in 1922 by the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who then donated it to the City of Charleston. The UDC organization, based in Richmond, Virginia, did not return a request for comment. 

Update 6/30/20 1:42 p.m.

Opponents of the mayor’s decision to remove the monument’s plaque spoke out on social media, including Ernest Blevins, commander of the Robert S. Camp Sons of the Confederate Veterans in Charleston, West Virginia.

Blevins said he first heard the plaque had been removed when a friend saw a post about it on Facebook. “They [the city] just removed it without public comment. It was secretive," he said. Blevins added that he doesn’t think that the memorial was meant to be racist or offensive. 

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