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Thousands sign petition to replace Confederate monument with statue of Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott and a male figure on the Confederate monument. Credit: PA/Google Street View

A petition for a statue of rapper Missy Elliott to replace a Confederate monument in Virginia has been signed by more than 16,000 people.

The author of the campaign, Nathan Coflin, said that "Missy is everything the Confederacy was not", and that he wishes to "put white supremacy down, flip it and reverse it".

He said that the Work It hitmaker's likeness should "finally replace the Confederate monument in Olde Towne, Portsmouth, Virginia, near the intersection of Court and High streets".

The 35ft (10.7m) obelisk was erected to commemorate the men from Portsmouth and the surrounding area who died in the US Civil War which broke out over a long-standing controversy over slavery and states' rights.

Virginia was part of the Confederacy which was formed of 11 slave-holding states.

Missy Elliott was born in the Virginia town, and Mr Coflin's petition described her as "a true native Portsmouth hero".

The Change.org petition states: "Who better to encapsulate the culture and spirit of the city enshrined in a new monument than Grammy Award winning rapper, dancer, and record producer Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott?

"Before she was "Missy Misdemeanor" she was Melissa Arnette Elliott, born on July 1, 1971 in Portsmouth, Virginia.

"Hailing from humble beginnings as the only child of a power company dispatcher and a welder at Portsmouth's lauded naval shipyard, she rose to become a platinum recording artist with over 30 million albums sold.

"All this without even once owning a slave."

"Getting this statue put up will be a lot of work and you may ask yourself is it worth it? I say yes and ask you to join me in letting us work it.

"Together we can put white supremacy down, flip it and reverse it. Let us come together in getting City Council to erect this statue in honor of Missy Elliott and all those in the great city of Portsmouth who work it each and every day."

Mr Coflin said he intends to give the petition to Portsmouth's Mayor John L. Rowe for consideration.

The campaign comes a week after white supremacists descended on Charlottesville in Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a general who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War, from the town.

Heather Heyer, 32, died at the protest and 19 others were injured when a car was driven into a counter-demonstration.