Virginia Judge Bars Lee Statue Removal for 90 Days

by Sarah Rankin


RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) — A judge dissolved one injunction preventing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration from removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond Monday, but immediately instituted a new one in a different lawsuit.

The new 90-day injunction issued by Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant bars the statue’s removal while the claims in a lawsuit filed by a group of Richmond property owners are litigated.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has filed a motion to dismiss the property owners’ case, which has not yet been acted on by the judge, according to Herring’s spokeswoman.

Marchant on Monday also dismissed a lawsuit filed by a descendant of signatories to an 1890 deed that transferred the statue to the state, and he dissolved the injunction associated with that case.

Plaintiff William C. Gregory had argued the state agreed to “faithfully guard” and “affectionately protect” the towering statue on historic Monument Avenue. The Associated Press sent an inquiry to his attorney seeking comment.

Northam announced plans to remove the statue in early June, citing the pain felt across the country about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The governor appreciates the dismissal of the Gregory case and “looks forward to another victory in court as soon as possible,” his spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, said in a statement.

“This statue will come down – and Virginia will be better for it,” she said.

Should a court eventually clear the way, it won’t be a simple task to remove the 21-foot-high (6.4-meter-high) equestrian statue, which the state has said weighs about 12 tons (11 metric tonnes).

A state board has approved a plan for removal that calls for cutting the statue into three sections for eventual reassembly elsewhere.

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Sarah Rankin is a reporter with The Associated Press.

About the Headline Photo: In this July 31, 2017 file photo, the sun sets behind the statue of confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. Attorneys will be back in court Thursday, July 23, 2020, for a hearing in a lawsuit challenging Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to remove a giant Confederate statue in Virginia’s capital city.(AP Photo/Steve Helber)





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