The Virginia Supreme Court will hear legal challenges Tuesday from fellow Virginians regarding Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to take down the statue of Robert E. Lee.
“Instead of choosing to heal the wounds of the American civil war, they [previous Virginian politicians] chose to keep them on display. They launched a new campaign to undo the results of the Civil War by other means,” Northam said. He wrote in a press release that Virginia’s “legacy of racism” has led the state to refuse to examine why they need statues of Confederate leaders.
Northam’s announced the decision in June 2020, 10 days after George Floyd’s death.
A group of Richmond residents who own property near the statue and a descendant of signatories to an 1890 deed filed separate lawsuits. The deed transferred the statue, pedestal, and ground on to the state, according to the Associated Press.
In the other lawsuit, five property owners say their ancestors have previously agreed to maintain a statue of Lee and that the governor can’t break it. They claimed Northam’s order exceeded the governor’s authority under the Virginia Constitution and an 1889 joint resolution.
Democratic Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring believes that we can’t base this decision on agreements made a century ago. “We should not be bound by what people did 140 years ago in their effort to obscure what the Confederacy [was] all about,” Herring said. “This statue was erected against a backdrop of white supremacy.”
Democratic nominee for Attorney General Jay Jones is running against Herring in the state’s primary Tuesday. He too has called for the complete removal of any Confederate statue. “Tearing down that monument to the Confederacy is the floor,” Jones said. “A lot of these statues were erected well after the Civil War, but it was at a time in which the intimidation of black communities was reaching a fever pitch.”
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