Washington and Lee Closing Lee Chapel Over Safety Concerns - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Washington and Lee Closing Lee Chapel Over Safety Concerns

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The Lee Chapel and Museum at Washington and Lee University will be closed Friday at 3 p.m. through Sunday over safety concerns ahead of the Sons of Confederate Veterans rally planned for Saturday. 

According to the Lee Chapel Facebook page the university is closing the chapel as a safety precaution because of threatening letters, emails and phone calls they've received after removing replica confederate battle flags from the chapel earlier this month.

The Stonewall Brigade will host a vigil and rally Saturday from 12 - 3 p.m. at Hopkins Green and posted a message about the closing: 

"Washington and Lee announced that Lee Chapel would be closed on the weekend because they feel "threatened" by the presence of those who will come to peacefully protest the removal of Confederate flags from Robert E. Lee's grave.  All scheduled events are not even near W&L or Lee Chapel, so this is obviously a PR stunt contrived by W&L to make it appear as if we intend harm to Lee Chapel or its staff.  The last people on earth that would cause any harm at Lee Chapel would be those of us trying to oppose the University's actual desecration of it.  This is reminiscent of Mayor Elrod calling in the State Police Swat team to point rifles at participants in a similar gathering in 2011 in which there was not a single incident.  It is also an intimidation tactic.  However, just at the Civil Rights leaders had to be harassed by the powers that be, degraded, and attacked, I think we can survive this quite well." 

The following was posted on the Lee Chapel facebook page: 

"We regret to announce that Lee Chapel and Museum will be closed from Friday, July 25 at 3:00 p.m. through Sunday July 27.. This unscheduled closing is based on concerns for the safety of the facility and its staff on the day that the Sons of Confederate Veterans have scheduled a rally in Lexington. We must take this unfortunate precaution because of the inflammatory and threatening letters, emails and phone calls the University has received in response to the removal of reproduction battle flags from the statue chamber in Lee Chapel and the decision to bring authentic battle flags to the Lee Chapel Museum. We apologize for this inconvenience." 

" The only thing I can add is that no one suspects that the Sons of Confederate Veterans plans anything bad. But given the inflammatory and threatening communications we have received, we — like the Sons of Confederate Veterans — want the chapel and museum safeguarded," said Brian Eckert who is the Executive Director, for Communications and Public Affairs at Washington and Lee University.