Virginia Supreme Court to hear appeals over removing Robert E. Lee statue

Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans to remove the statue last June

The Supreme Court of Virginia said Friday it will take up appeals in two lawsuits that seek to prevent Gov. Ralph Northam from removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond.

Last June, Democratic Gov. Northam declared that “Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy” and announced plans to remove Lee’s statue along with that of other Confederate leaders. Northam, whose term as governor ends next January, announced his decision to take down the statue after George Floyd’s death last year in police custody in Minneapolis.

But the governor’s removal plans have been tied up in court since then.

Robert E. Lee statue
(Credit: Getty Images)

Read More: Black contractor braves threats in removing Confederate statues in Richmond

Attorney General Mark Herring, who is representing Northam in court, has previously tried to speed up the proceedings in the matter.

“Attorney General Herring 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,” his spokeswoman, Charlotte Gomer, said in a statement.
Robert E. Lee statue richmond
Michael Fisher Sr., lifts his son, Michael Fisher Jr., to dunk a basketball at the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue on January 15, 2021 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, plans to remove the statue fell apart when the court granted a petition of appeal from a group of Richmond residents and from a descendant of signatories to an 1890 deed that transferred the statue, pedestal, and ground they sit on to the state. It was not immediately clear how soon the court might take the matters up, the Washington Post reports.

The city of Richmond, which was the capital of the Confederacy for most of the Civil War, has removed more than a dozen Confederate statues on city land since Floyd’s death, which sparked a renewed wave of Confederate monuments removals across the U.S.

Read More: Virginia’s Robert E. Lee statue removed from the US Capitol

Critics of the statues say keeping them in prominent places glorifies efforts to preserve slavery. Others say their removal amounts to erasing history.

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