Posted on October 28, 2020

Judge Rules Northam Can Remove Robert E. Lee Statue in Richmond

Aris Folley, The Hill, October 27, 2020

A judge in Virginia ruled this week that Gov. Ralph Northam (D) can take down a controversial statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that was erected in Richmond more than a century ago.

Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant handed down the ruling on Tuesday, marking a turning point in the months-long legal battle between the state and a group of local residents that began shortly after he ordered the statue’s removal earlier this year.

However, the judge has temporarily prohibited the statue’s removal pending appeal from the plaintiffs, who have up to a month to file a notice of appeal.

Northam praised the ruling in a statement on Tuesday afternoon and said the move was a “step closer to a more inclusive, equitable, and honest Virginia.”

“The Lee monument was built to celebrate the Confederacy and uphold white supremacy. This victory moves Virginia forward in removing this relic of the past—one that was erected for all the wrong reasons,” he said, while also thanking Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) and his team for “their tremendous work on this case.”

Northam pushed for the statue, which is located Richmond’s Monument Avenue, to be removed in June as a number of cities across the country had begun taking down public symbols of the pro-slavery Confederate cause amid widespread protests against racism and police brutality following the police killing of George Floyd.