The Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments for two lawsuits blocking the removal of the Lee statue in Richmond on Tuesday.
A year ago, protests sparked by Minneapolis’ police treatment of George Floyd spread across the country. In Virginia, those protests spurred politicians to start removing controversial Confederate monuments. Although Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney was able to quickly remove most of the monuments on Monument Avenue, the most famous monument — a huge statue of Robert E. Lee — sits on state property ceded to the state under conditions that have complicated efforts to remove the bronze general.
Roughly 50 or more Monument Avenue residents who live nearby the Robert E. Lee statue intend to file an amicus brief with the Virginia Supreme Court in support of Governor Ralph Northam’s plan to remove the controversial monument, a lawyer representing the group said.
Local residents organized the group called Circle Neighbors after a Richmond Circuit Court judge ruled earlier this week against three plaintiffs, who also live near the monument, seeking to block the Commonwealth from removing the statue.
The trial over a lawsuit aiming to stop Governor Ralph Northam from removing the statue of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee began Monday morning in Richmond.
After the death of George Floyd, the Lee monument and other Confederate statues throughout the city became a focal point of the summer protests over racial inequality and police brutality in Richmond.
It’s two miles or so down Monument Avenue from the Virginia State Capitol building in Richmond to the Robert E. Lee Memorial.
The capitol houses the oldest legislative body in North America – the Virginia General Assembly, which dates to 1619 when the Virginia Company, the private firm that controlled the state, appointed a governor and Council of State to rule along with 22 elected burgesses.