Fight Over Lee Statue Heads to Court. The Trial Is Set for October.

By Arianna Coghill

August 26, 2020

The state’s motion for the lawsuit’s dismissal was denied by a Richmond judge. 

Virginia’s largest Confederate statue will remain standing until at least October, as the legal battle around its removal continues.  A Richmond judge ruled on Tuesday that the lawsuit challenging Gov. Ralph Northam’s removal plans will proceed to court. 

The trial is scheduled for Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. 

The numerous deaths of unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police, like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, reignited a nationwide conversation on racism, prompting numerous changes across the country. 

One of these changes was the removal of numerous Confederate monuments, which many criticize as an “antiquated relic” of our nation’s racist past. Virginia, which has more Confederate memorials than any other state, was no exception. Multiple statues across the commonwealth have been torn down or covered up in recent months. But one still remains in Richmond: an 1890 depiction of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

READ MORE: 11 Confederate Statues Are Coming Down in Richmond: Here’s What You Need to Know

In June, Gov. Northam labeled the statue as a racist symbol and ordered the the Virginia Department of General Services to take it down. This would be done in a process requiring two phases and an onsite inspection, according to WAVY. In response, residents of Richmond’s Monument Avenue filed a lawsuit, attempting to stop the memorial’s removal. 

Now that case will go before the court. This week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed a motion to halt the lawsuit, but that request was denied by Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant on Tuesday. In a seven-page ruling, Marchant rejected Herring’s motion and dismissed the lawsuit’s argument that taking down the statue would be a violation of Virginia Code. The remaining four claims in the lawsuit, including that removing the statue would cause emotional damage and a loss of property value, will be heard in October.

Spokeswoman Charlotte Gomer said in a release that Attorney General Mark Herring “remains committed to ensuring this divisive and antiquated relic of a bygone era is removed as quickly as possible.”

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