Richmond Mayor Assigned Bodyguards After Seeking Confederate Statue Removal

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has been assigned a police security detail after receiving "serious, credible" threats, which come after he called to remove Confederate monuments in the city amid nationwide civil unrest.

Stoney has vowed to take down such statues from the city's Monument Avenue, amid ongoing protests throughout the city, with continued calls to remove Confederate monuments across the state of Virginia and further afield.

The mayor issued an emergency order to rid the city of these at the start of July, with a lawsuit subsequently filed to block the order, citing concerns protesters may hurt themselves attempting to pull them down. A number of the city's monuments have been taken down and are being stored at a waste water treatment plant.

In June, a spokesperson for Stoney had said since this vow to take down statues the mayor had received threats, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

The police department has since cited "serious, credible and on-going threats," which have prompted a security detail being issued to the mayor.

"Due to serious, credible and on-going threats to Mayor Stoney, RPD Chief Smith has assigned a security detail to the mayor," a Richmond Police Department spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek. "It is now in effect and will remain in place for the time being. For security reasons, we will not make public the tactics employed by the detail. The threats are being investigated."

levar stoney
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney speaks during a news conference on June 4, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. He has acted to remove Confederate monuments in Richmond. Zach Gibson/Getty Images

A spokesperson for the mayor told the Associated Press: "The mayor has spent the last three and a half years traveling to hundreds, if not thousands, of public and private events without police protection. Unfortunately, recent events have made it clear that we are now in different times.

"The mayor will continue the unprecedented community outreach and personal engagement with residents that has defined his term, but for obvious reasons, we cannot discuss details of his security."

He has previously faced protesters descending upon his apartment building, having been criticized over his response to how police reacted to protesters in the city, who demonstrated amid widespread gatherings following the death of George Floyd.

richmond statue
Workers prepare to load the Confederate soldiers and sailors statue onto a flatbed truck on July 8, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the immediate removal of all city owned Confederate statues. Eze Amos/Getty Images

Protesters in the city, which was the Confederate capital throughout the civil war, have previously toppled Confederate statues amid the ongoing demonstrations.

A hologram of Floyd, who died after a police officer put his knee on his neck while arresting him in Minneapolis, was projected above the site of where a monument for Jefferson Davis in Richmond, which was toppled in June, once stood.

As well as advocating the removal of statues, Stoney has also committed to funding plans for "commemoration and memorialization of Richmond's complete history."

"Black lives built this city. Black lives have defined Richmond's history. They matter," said the mayor, in a statement in July. "The story of Black lives should span our skyline, our landscape and our textbooks accordingly."

Confederate busts have been removed from Virginia's State Capitol building, amid statues across the state being targeted, with statues to controversial figures having been toppled worldwide in recent months.

Newsweek has contacted Mayor Stoney's office for comment.