My sense of this is that the Charlottesville city council thought their campaign to remove Confederate monuments was going to be an easy layup. They thought it would be a cheap way to score some moral authority points and get fawning media coverage for themselves and the city, and that nobody would complain very much except a few stodgy country club types who look like generic Southern gentry sent over from central casting.
They never had any idea that they were going to put themselves at the center of a giant firestorm of racial politics, or that somebody would turn the town into a war zone and a national watchword for racial conflict. They certainly had no idea they would be unleashing a political radicalism that would target them, too. But target them it has.