Court: Charlottesville's Confederate Statues Can Come Down

Lee statue was focus of deadly 2017 protest
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2021 6:32 AM CDT
Court: Charlottesville's Confederate Statues Can Come Down
In this Saturday, July 8, 2017 photo, protesters carry signs in front of a statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson as they demonstrate against a KKK rally in Justice Park in Charlottesville, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

After years of protests, counter-protests, and legal battles, statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Charlottesville might be coming down very soon. Virginia's top court ruled Thursday that a law against the removal of war monuments does not apply to the statues, the Daily Progress reports. The Virginia Supreme Court, ruling on an appeal of a lower court's decision, said the 1997 law that banned local governments from removing monuments did not apply retroactively to the Confederate statues, which were erected in the 1920s. The law "did not provide the authority for the City to erect the Statues, and it does not prohibit the City from disturbing or interfering with them," justices wrote.

In 2017, thousands of white supremacists and other far-right activists rallied in Charlottesville to protest the city council's decision to remove the Lee statue, CNN notes. A counter-protester was killed when a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd. City officials praised the ruling, the Guardian reports. In a statement, they said they plan to redesign the parks where the statues currently stand "in a way that promotes healing and that tells a more complete history of Charlottesville." (More Charlottesville, Va. stories.)

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