RICHMOND, Va. — The Supreme Court of Virginia has been asked to intervene in the planned removal of the Robert E. Lee statue on Richmond’s iconic Monument Avenue.
Attorneys for the five plaintiffs in the case filed a notice of intent to appeal Richmond Circuit Judge W. Reilly Marchant’s ruling Tuesday that cleared the path for Virginia to take down the statue. The move was not unexpected, as Marchant delivered his ruling but ordered it stayed to allow for an appeal.
A date for the hearing has not been set.
Virginia was sued by the plaintiffs in June after Gov. Ralph S. Northam announced plans to remove the 130-year-old statue from a traffic circle at the intersection of Monument and Allen avenues. The statue was once the centerpiece of a group of monuments dedicated to Confederate leaders from the Civil War.
The other four were owned by the city of Richmond and taken down just as a new law went into effect that gives localities, not the state, latitude on whether or not Confederate monuments should be removed.
How many Confederate monuments have been removed since George Floyd’s death? Hint: It’s a lot.
The Lee statue and the traffic circle are state-owned property dating to the late 19th century, when the statue was erected. The plaintiffs sued to keep the statue in place, citing those property deeds, but the state maintained the statue was put up as a deliberate show of white supremacy.
On Tuesday, Marchant agreed with the state’s assertion, saying that “general public policy” overrode any previous land covenants.