| The Progress-Index
Virginia governor Northam orders removal of iconic Robert Lee statue
Virginia’s governor says a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will be removed as soon as possible from Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia judge has dissolved an injunction blocking the state from removing the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, but locals shouldn’t expect to see the work crews taking care of it right away.
Late Tuesday, Circuit Judge W. Reilly Marchant ruled keeping the 110-year-old monument in its current location “would be contrary to public policy” established this year by the Virginia General Assembly that would permit removal of Confederate memorials.
However, Marchant ordered the decision be stayed until the plaintiffs who sued to keep the statue in place decide on a possible appeal to the state Supreme Court. An attorney for the plaintiffs told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that an appeal would be made.
Gov. Ralph S. Northam hailed the ruling as “one step closer to a more inclusive, equitable, and honest Virginia.” The governor was named as the lead defendant in the lawsuit.
“The Lee monument was built to celebrate the Confederacy and uphold white supremacy,” Northam said in a statement. “This victory moves Virginia forward in removing this relic of the past — one that was erected for all the wrong reasons.”
The Lee statue, located in downtown Richmond, was the centerpiece of a series of memorials to Confederate Civil War heroes. The other four statues, of Gens. Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, Confederate president Jefferson Davis and naval commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, were all owned by the city of Richmond and were removed in July as the state law allowing them to be taken down went into effect.
But the Lee statue was owned by the commonwealth, deeded to it by Henrico County residents and a special commission in 1890.
One of the plaintiffs in the case is a direct descendant of one of the commission members. They claimed that removing the statue was a violation of the original deed.
In his ruling, Marchant called the deeds “restrictive covenants.”
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The judge’s ruling comes eight days after the case was heard in a Richmond courtroom.
Under state law, the appeal mist be filed within 30 days of the decision.
The Lee statue was a focal point during last spring and summer’s series of demonstrations over incidents of alleged racial injustices by police officers. Some of those Richmond protests turned into violent confrontations between demonstrators and the Richmond Police.
Many of the demonstrations originated from the Lee statue, which was heavily tagged with graffiti by protesters. It also was the site of several civil rights rallies, including one where an image of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minnesota, , was projected onto the statue’s pedestal.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter: @BAtkinson_PI
Source : USA TODAY | World News