A legal battle has just gotten underway that could change the way our country looks, literally. A Virginia judge has just blocked Gov. Ralph Northam (D) from removing a famous statue of Robert E. Lee.
The stay is temporary. Further arguments are getting ready to be heard in Virginia where the case is underway.
Here we go again
The statue of General Lee is one of 110 Confederate monuments in the state of Virginia, and over the years there have been many attempts to have them removed.
This particular effort to take down the Lee statue was spurred on by the death of George Floyd, the Minnesota man who lost his life while being arrested. Over the past week, as protests have taken place in Virginia, protestors have taken issue with the statute, which they view as racist. Accordingly, they have been vandalizing it, and Northam, for his part, has ordered its removal.
But even before all of the civil unrest, Northam had the removal of these statutes high on his priority list, signing a bill back in April that would allow local governments to “remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover” confederate statues in public spaces.
So, is that it? Is the statue coming down?
Not just yet
William C. Gregory, a man who is described in court papers as the descendant of two signatories to the deed for the land upon which the Lee statue rests, has now challenged Northam’s order in court.
“(Gregory’s) family has taken pride for 130 years in this statue resting upon land belonging to his family and transferred to the Commonwealth in consideration of the Commonwealth contractually guaranteeing to perpetually care for and protect the Lee Monument,” the lawsuit reads.
Indeed, it is an added twist to this case that the state of Virginia is a party to the 1890 deed, and, not only that, but in that deed, Virginia agreed to “faithfully guard” and “affectionately protect” the Lee statue.
For now, as the case gets going, the judge has granted an injunction that will prevent the removal of the statute for a period of ten days. During that time, arguments will be heard to determine whether Northam and the government can remove the statute.
Gregory is not alone in opposing the taking down of the Lee statute. Virginia state Republicans have also issued their own statement in which they wrote: “attempts to eradicate instead of contextualizing history invariably fail.”
We would agree. We’ll have to see how this one turns out.