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Debate over Civil War monuments heat up

(WSET)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WSET) -- The debate over history versus heritage is raging in a local community.

Protests erupted this past weekend in Charlottesville where leaders recently voted to remove Civil War monuments.

Patrick Ahern was inspired to speak out after torch-wielding protesters rallied in front of Charlottesville's Robert E. Lee statue over the weekend.

The group was at Lee Park in opposition to the statue's looming removal. "These protesters were racist far-right KKK imitators and Charlottesville rejects that," said Patrick Ahern who supports the removal of the statue.

Caden, who did not want us to reveal his full name, says American history is shared regardless of how we feel about it. "The last thing we should do as a country is destroy monuments to people who were important to us and important to our history," said Caden who opposes the removal of the statue.

"Honestly, it's amazing at how good we white people are at pretending like it's not there," said Ahern. He is talking about racism, he says it's not in the past, but now - a point Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Perriello echoed in front of the statue.

"I think the conversation is is just as important as the result talking about why different people may see these statues differently," said Perriello. "Ultimately, I think it is important to make sure we're telling our history accurately and in a way that emphasizes going forward."

Perriello is pushing for a statewide commission to foster reconciliation and healthy dialogue about our history, something that may have happened here.

"It turned out to be pretty fun and way more constructive than I thought it would be," said Caden.

Right now as things currently stand, the statue will remain where it is for at least 5 more months.

In April, a judge ruled the Lee Statue could not be moved for six months.

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