A judge temporarily blocked the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from downtown Richmond on Monday.
Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo granted a 10-day injunction originally sought by William Gregory, the great-grandson of the couple who originally signed the deed that allowed for the transfer of the land to the state of Virginia, according to the suit. Gregory contended that Virginia promised to “affectionately protect” the statue when it originally annexed the land on which the statue stands.
Democratic Governor Ralph Northam announced his intention on June 4 to remove the Richmond statue, which has stood for 130 years, amid protests throughout Virginia and across the country over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, video of the incident shows.
While Northam’s administration is in the process of reviewing Gregory’s claim and the recent injunction, it remains “committed to removing this divisive symbol from Virginia’s capital [sic] city,” Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said in a statement to the Washington Post.
Calls for the statue to be removed have been frequent since the deadly white-supremacist rally that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, though Northam often deferred to local authorities instead of moving to remove the statue himself.
Confederate monuments across the country have been thrown into the national spotlight in recent years. Americans urging for their removal have argued that the monuments glorify traitors and are reminders racism and slavery, while Americans arguing against their removal have referenced their historical and cultural importance.
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