Apr 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Virginia Supreme Court rules Charlottesville can remove two Confederate statues

The statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia with a banner that reads "Black Lives Matter"
The statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va. Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Charlottesville can remove two statues of Confederate generals, overturning a previous decision by a circuit court, AP reports.

Why it matters: Civil rights advocates say the Confederate monuments pay deference to America's legacy of slavery and racism, and the removal of such statues became a flashpoint of racial justice protests in 2020.

  • The statues are of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.

The big picture: The Robert E. Lee statue was the focus of a violent white nationalist rally in 2017, where demonstrators came to Charlottesville to protest the city's plans to remove the statue, Axios previously reported.

  • A group of residents sued to block the statues' removal and the circuit court had ruled in their favor, per AP.

Details: In the ruling, Justice Bernard Goodwyn said that the statues can be removed because they were built before the passage of a law that regulates the “disturbance of or interference with" war memorials and monuments.

  • “In other words, [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,” Goodwyn wrote.
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