Judge Starts New Injunction Barring Lee Statue Removal

A judge dissolved one injunction preventing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration from removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee

WRVA News
August 03, 2020 - 12:07 pm
FILE - 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. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A judge on Monday dissolved one injunction preventing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration from removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond 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.

Plaintiff William C. Gregory had argued the state agreed to “faithfully guard” and “affectionately protect” the towering statue on historic Monument Avenue.

In Helen Marie Taylor's case (the third suit filed by Monument Ave residents) the judge has issued a 90 day injunction barring removal while the claims are litigated. AG Herring has filed a motion to dismiss the Taylor case, which is still pending and has not yet been acted on by the judge.

However, in the Taylor case (the third suit filed by Monument Ave residents) the judge has issued a 90 day injunction barring removal while the claims are litigated.

Gregory and its injunction are gone, but Taylor is still alive and now includes a 90 day injunction, and the Commonwealth is still barred by court order from removing the statue.

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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