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VA Supreme Court Throws Out Confederate Monument Injunction Against Stoney

in heavy rain crews ease the Stonewall jackson statue off of its pedestal
The statue to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was the first to come down on July 1. (Craig Carper/VPM)

The Virginia Supreme Court has thrown out an emergency injunction against Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, clearing the way for the removal of the city’s last Confederate statue standing.

The ruling, issued late Wednesday, came after Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo granted a 60-day emergency injunction to an anonymous plaintiff back in July. The injunction was issued after crews hired by the city had removed every Confederate monument in Richmond except the statue of A.P. Hill in Northside. The ruling could clear the way for that removal to move forward.

The Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling hinged on a  new law on Confederate monuments that went into effect on July 1, the day crews began removing statues. That law does not allow for a private citizen to sue.

“Because Anonymous failed to allege a potentially viable right of action, he or she was not entitled to a temporary injunction,” the ruling said. “The circuit court abused its discretion in determining otherwise, and we vacate the temporary injunction.” 

The Virginia Supreme Court ruling did not address whether Stoney was within the scope of the law when he used his emergency powers to remove the monuments, citing an ongoing risk to public safety.

Jeffrey Breit, Stoney’s attorney, said the opinion affirmed the argument he’s been making all along.

“We always thought, ‘There’s no way this should happen. There’s no way we should get to any of the merits, because they don’t have the right to bring this claim,’” he said in an interview with VPM. 

Breit worked alongside Robert Rolfe at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, who represented the city. He credited Rolfe with doing most of the heavy lifting in the case. 

In an email to supporters on Thursday, Stoney’s campaign touted the ruling as a victory.

“Now we can finish what we started, since Levar already removed nearly all city-owned Confederate statues in Richmond,” the email read. “This ruling means these statues of a bygone era of injustice and hate are gone for good.”

It’s currently unclear if and when the Hill statue on Hermitage Road will come down. The removal is complicated by the fact that  Hill’s remains are buried underneath it.

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