Posted on July 25, 2023

Most of Lawsuit to Stop Melting of Charlottesville Lee Statue Is Dismissed

Teo Armus, Washington Post, July 18, 2023

The bulk of a lawsuit seeking to stop a Charlottesville museum from melting down one of the city’s toppled Confederate statues was dismissed by a judge last week, narrowing a legal challenge over the monument’s future to a dispute over public records.

Leaders of the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center say the ruling means they can continue moving ahead with their plans for the bronze statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which had served as the focal point of the deadly Unite the Right rally in 2017.

The museum had won a bid to take over the statue from Charlottesville in December 2021 and then “disassembled” the monument upon taking ownership. {snip}


The plaintiffs that filed the lawsuit are the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation, which runs a Civil War battlefield in Louisa County, Va., and the Ratcliffe Foundation, which manages a museum in Russell County, Va., linked to a Confederate general.

Both groups had submitted bids to the city for the Lee statue after it was toppled two summers ago and lost out to the Jefferson School. {snip}

The ruling from Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. said the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation did not have standing to sue the city on two of its claims, in part because it submitted its bid for the statue too late.

But Peatross said that foundation can still sue the city on the claim that the city violated open-records laws as city council met over who should receive the statue.


Douglas and other museum leaders have in recent months advanced their effort to melt down the Lee statue, dubbed “Swords into Plowshares.”

Last year, the museum launched an online survey and hosted public forums to consult Charlottesville residents on what form the bronze should take. {snip}

Douglas said Charlottesville residents consulted in those forums have expressed a desire to see the project result in an interactive and educational piece of art — perhaps one that honors well-known African Americans who helped develop the city.