Richmond mayor Levar Stoney has reportedly been assigned bodyguards after he received numerous “serious” and “credible” threats, which surfaced after he called to remove Confederate monuments in the Virginia city amid nationwide civil unrest.
Among the statues targeted for removal include those of Richmond’s Monument Avenue, which features Confederate monuments, among others. Stoney issued an emergency order to dispose of the statues at the start of July along with a lawsuit filed to block the order, citing concerns protesters may hurt themselves attempting to pull them down.
The monuments that have already been removed by the city have been taken down and stored at a wastewater treatment plant, according to Newsweek.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that a spokesperson for Stoney says the mayor began receiving threats after he vowed in June to remove the Confederate monuments.
“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.”
Additionally, 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 continued: “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.”
Protesters themselves have toppled a number of Confederate statues in the city during ongoing demonstrations. A hologram of George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis police, was projected above the site of where a monument for Confederate president Jefferson Davis once stood in Richmond.
Richmond, Virginia was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War.