Andrew Trunsky, DCNF
A judge temporarily blocked the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from downtown Richmond on Monday.
Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo granted a 10-day injunction originally sought by William Gregory, who is identified as the great-grandson of the couple who originally signed the deed that allowed for the transfer of the land to Virginia, according to the suit. Virginia promised to “affectionately protect” the statue when it annexed the land on which the statue stands, Gregory said.
It is within the public interest to “await resolution of this case on the merits prior to removal of the statue by defendants, and the public interest weighs in favor of maintaining the status quo,” the judge wrote, according to CNN.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced his intention on June 4 to remove the Richmond statue, which has stood for 130 years, amid protests throughout Virginia and across the country over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, video of the incident showed.
While Northam’s administration is in the process of reviewing Gregory’s claim and the injunction, it remains “committed to removing this divisive symbol from Virginia’s capital city,” Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said in a statement to The Washington Post.
Calls for the statue to be removed have been frequent since the deadly white-supremacist rally that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, though Northam often deferred to local authorities instead of moving to remove the statue himself.
Confederate monuments across the country have been thrown into the spotlight in recent years. Americans urging for their removal have argued that the monuments glorify traitors and are reminders of racism and slavery, while Americans arguing against their removal have referenced their historical and cultural importance.
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