CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Monday denounced violence by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in neighboring Virginia but indicated he has no immediate plans to act on requests to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson from the Capitol grounds in Charleston.
At a press conference, Justice called what happened Aug. 12 in Charlottesville "despicable," and said he's "sympathetic" to people who feel harmed by things that recall the past.
"It's a complex situation and I think we've got to give it some time," he said. "Because what's going to happen here if you don't watch out is, if we respond to just the initial request, then right behind that is going to be a fallout of another group that's going to say, 'Well, if you do that, then you've got to take away this.'"
"I think it's despicable what happened in Charlottesville," said Justice, who recently switched from Democrat to Republican. "Neo-Nazi groups and white supremacy, where does that got a place in our society? It doesn't. It just plain doesn't."
The white nationalist rally over the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville led to violent clashes with counter protesters. One woman was killed when a car plowed into counter protesters. The driver has been charged with murder.
On Sunday evening in Charleston, about 400 people rallied on the Capitol grounds. It was organized by a group Call to Action for Racial Equality and was peaceful, police said.
Dozens of protesters gathered around the Jackson statue a week ago to seek its removal, condemn racism and show support for Charlottesville.
After Virginia voted to secede from the Union in 1861, Union loyalists in the western
part of the state started a two-year process of separating from Virginia, and West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20, 1863, during the Civil War.
Jackson was born in Clarksburg in 1824. He was accidentally shot by Confederate troops at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia and died a month before West Virginia became a state.
The statue of him was dedicated in 1910.