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A statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson towers over Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney ordered Wednesday all Confederate statues in the city to be removed, effective immediately.

Driving the news: A crew at the traffic circle of Monument Avenue and Arthur Ashe Boulevard in Richmond has already begun the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: Richmond is the former capital of the Confederacy. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in June. Protesters in Richmond also toppled the statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

"It is past time. We have needed to turn this page for decades and today we will. Since the end of Richmond’s official tenure as the capital of the Confederacy 155 years ago we have been burdened with that legacy."
— Levar Stoney said in a recorded statement

Stoney also said he is moving quickly because the Confederate monuments have sparked mass protests and the gatherings are a health concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that people have tried to topple the statues, posing the risk of injury.

Go deeper: Mississippi governor signs bill to remove Confederate symbol from state flag

Go deeper

Updated Aug 19, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on the future of the Democratic party

DNC week: On Wednesday, August 20 Axios co-founder Mike Allen hosted a conversation on the future of the Democratic Party, featuring Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), DNC Chair Tom Perez, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

Mayor Levar Stoney unpacked his efforts to remove confederate statues and monuments in Richmond and the racist historical legacy they represent.

  • On taking down confederate iconography: "We should be ashamed of these monuments. We should be ashamed of these symbols as Americans...I know in 2020 that my city is better than that. I know my state is better than that. And I definitely know that my country is better than that."

Sen. Cory Booker discussed the historic 2020 election ticket, his vision for how communities can expand their view of what makes safe neighborhoods, and how to maintain transparency and accountability in governance.

  • On the nomination of Sen. Kamala Harris as VP: "I think it's this feeling of affirmation that for the first time since the founding of this nation, I can look up at that historic ticket and see myself."
  • On rethinking community safety and situations where law enforcement gets involved: "We need to...treat mental illness not with jail or prison, but with help and health care. Those kinds of things ultimately reduce violence, make us safe, safer, but more importantly, elevate human well-being and human flourishing."

Gov. Phil Murphy broke down New Jersey's COVID-19 response and highlighted which successful efforts could be replicated by other states.

  • On his advice for other state governments: "I think history will not judge you harshly if you overcorrect, if you are too aggressive with this virus. I think we will all be judged, on the other hand, very harshly if you under-correct, if you underestimated."

Tom Perez stressed the importance of getting out the vote for the fall election and discussed the efforts undertaken by the Democratic party to uphold voting rights.

  • On the Democratic party's voter protection efforts: "We've never had a more robust voter protection operation than we do now...The reason for this is that Donald Trump has been very, very clear — [he's] going to try to make it harder for eligible people to vote. [The Trump campaign] doesn't want everyone to vote. They want less people to vote. That's their only formula for success: suppressing the vote."
  • On the 2020 election and the historic Democratic ticket: "This is history-making. And so many levels, shattering the gender glass ceiling, shattering the racial glass ceiling...This is historic, but it will be only a historical footnote unless we win."

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

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