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VA Supreme Court to Hear Lee Monument Case

Fencing was installed around the Robert E. Lee Monument last month as the state prepares to remove the statue to the Confederate general. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

The Supreme Court of Virginia has agreed to take up an appeal in the Robert E. Lee Monument case.

Groups appealing the lower-court's ruling want to keep the statue, on Richmond's Monument Avenue, standing.

Governor Ralph Northam ordered the statue’s removal in early June, days after Black Lives Matter protests began in Richmond. 

A Richmond Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the state back in October 2020, but kept a restraining order in place pending an appeal by the residents who filed the lawsuit to protect the statue. A spokesperson for Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement that he “remains more committed than ever to removing this symbol of Virginia's racist past from its place of prominence in our community, allowing Virginians to begin to heal and move forward to a more equitable future.”

State officials erected fencing around Richmond’s Robert E. Lee monument last month, in preparation for it’s removal. The area now enclosed was renamed Marcus-David Peters Circle by racial justice protesters this summer. 

The statue has been the subject of multiple lawsuits. 

A descendant of the family who gave the 130-year-old statue to the state sued Northam to stop its removal. In response to that complaint, Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the governor from taking down the statue until the case was resolved. Judge Cavedo later recused himself because he lives in the neighborhood.

Another complaint was later filed by five Monument Avenue residents who say taking down the statue would decrease property values and harm the historic nature of the neighborhood. 

The Supreme Court granted petitions for appeal in both of those cases. 

The Lee monument is now the only Confederate statue left on Monument Avenue. The others were pulled down by protesters or removed by the city.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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