Signer ’95
Photo: Cat Thrasher

In August, white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Va., to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. A woman was killed and 19 were injured when a car rammed a group of counterprotesters. Michael Signer ’95, the city’s mayor, talked to PAW a week later. 

Aftershock The feeling here is of a city getting up off its knees — we are still extremely traumatized but also excited to show the world that [the supremacists] picked the wrong city to try to set back. 

Statues I previously voted to add more context around [Confederate statues], but I am joining the governor’s call to remove them from civic spaces. They’ve become touchstones for terrorists, and their meaning can never be disassociated from that. ... Virginia law prevents localities from moving or disturbing war memorials, so I’m asking the General Assembly to change that. 

The supremacists Evil visited us here. [But] when Dylann Roof tried to start a race war in Charleston, exactly the opposite happened: more racial harmony. When Bull Connor turned his hoses on peaceful protesters in Alabama, the country saw the brutality under Jim Crow. And today, the nation is witnessing the nihilism at the heart of the alt-right, and it’s going to repudiate it.

Interview conducted and condensed by C.C.