Protesters gather at a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee defaced with paint from ongoing anti-racism protests in Richmond, Virginia. Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

A circuit court judge in Richmond on Thursday extended an injunction barring the state of Virginia from removing a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the city's historic Monument Avenue, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

The big picture: The statue is the "property of the people," Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo said at a hearing Thursday. Cavedo initially issued a 10-day injunction on June 8, days after Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the statue be removed "as soon as possible," and will hold another hearing on July 23.

  • The lawsuit seeking to stop the statue's removal was brought by the great-grandson of two signatories of the 1890 deed that transferred ownership of the land surrounding the statue to the state of Virginia.
  • It argues that the deed required the state to consider the monument "perpetually sacred."

Why it matters: Virginia has been at the center of a longtime national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be displayed publicly. That discussion reached a boiling point when protests over a statue of Lee in Charlottesville turned violent in 2017.

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