Restricted Largest Confederate Monument In The South Is Coming Down

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Jan 28, 2021
September 2, 2021--Richmond Times Dispatch

'Today it is clear — the largest Confederate monument in the South is coming down.' Court rulings clear way for removal of Lee Monument in Richmond​

In two unanimous rulings Thursday the Virginia Supreme Court cleared the way for the removal of Richmond's iconic but divisive Lee Monument.
The justices rejected appeals from five nearby property owners and an heir of those who donated the land for the Lee statue to bar moving it as ordered by Gov. Ralph Northam last year during racial justice protests that swept the former capital of the Confederacy following the death of George Floyd.
A statement from Northam's office said preparations for the statue's removal have been underway for months and that the Department of General Services can now begin executing a plan that prioritizes public safety.

The process is complicated by several logistical and security concerns, including street closures and the equipment required to ensure the safe removal of the 12-ton statue, said the governor's office. Removal of the statue will be a multi-day process and no action on the statue is expected this week, said officials.

"Today’s ruling is a tremendous win for the people of Virginia. Our public memorials are symbols of who we are and what we value. When we honor leaders who fought to preserve a system that enslaved human beings, we are honoring a lost cause that has burdened Virginia for too many years."

He added, “Today it is clear—the largest Confederate monument in the South is coming down.”
William C. Gregory, a descendant of two of the people who donated the land to the state, filed suit in Richmond Circuit Court to block it, alleging that the 1887 and 1890 deeds giving the land to the state created a perpetual covenant prohibiting removal of the Lee statue, which he had a right to enforce as an heir to the original land donors.

When that suit failed, five area residents, two of them residents of the Monument Avenue Historic District, also sued, arguing that the 1887 and 1890 deeds require that the monument be held "perpetually sacred" by the state.

Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant ruled against them, holding that arguments to keep it in place were contrary to current public policy as established by the General Assembly last year. An injunction was put in place barring the monument’s removal pending the appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.
In the unanimous opinion Thursday in the residents' case, the high court states that, "Those restrictive covenants are unenforceable as contrary to public policy and for being unreasonable because their effect is to compel government speech, by forcing the Commonwealth to express, in perpetuity, a message with which it now disagrees. For the reasons stated, we hold that the circuit court did not err in concluding that the purported restrictive covenants are unenforceable, that Governor Northam’s order to remove the Lee Monument did not violate the Constitution of Virginia, and that all of the Taylor Plaintiffs’ claims are without merit. Accordingly, we will affirm the judgment of the circuit court and immediately dissolve all injunctions imposed by the circuit court."


In the Gregory case the justices ruled, "Gregory has no property right, related to the Lee Monument, to enforce against the Commonwealth. As a result, the circuit court correctly found that Gregory failed to articulate a legally viable cause of action against Governor Northam and Director Damico, and it did not err in granting their demurrer and dismissing Gregory’s claim with prejudice."
Patrick McSweeney, lawyer for the property owners, said he had not yet had a chance to read the rulings for comment.
The opinion in the property owners' case was written by Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn. The Gregory case was authored by the court. "This is a pretty complete vindication of the governor's case," said Richard Schragger, who teaches at the University of Virginia School of Law.
 
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Historians testified that the monument was erected during a time of racial injustice and did not reflect our diverse modern society. How many monuments were erected to 'anyone' during America's time of racial in justice ( I assume 1776 to 2020)?
That makes them all susceptible to a judge ruling they dont reflect our now racially diverse country.
 

Quaama

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The orders from the Court can be read in full at the following links:
Taylor et al v Northam et al; and
[Decesdent of those who gave the land to Virginia] Gregory v Northam et al.

In the Taylor v Northam the Judge says in conclusion:
"Assuming arguendo that the Taylor Plaintiffs are correct in claiming that the language in the 1887 Deed and the 1890 Deed created restrictive covenants, those restrictive covenants are unenforceable as contrary to public policy and for being unreasonable because their effect is to compel government speech, by forcing the Commonwealth to express, in perpetuity, a message with which it now disagrees."
This seems to me that the Court is saying that the R E Lee statue must be removed to permit 'free speech'!

I had hoped to travel to the USA, primarily to visit battlefields (although Monument Avenue was also 'on the list'), but I think it very unlikely now. By the time I'm able to get there it's likely that none of the monuments and statues that I'd hoped to see will all be gone or, at least, all that will remain is a very lopsided public display where only one side is represented.
It's a sad situation and given that the clamour to remove all things Confederate has even extended to cemeteries I fear that you will be left with nothing to publicly display or commemorate those from the two sides of the conflict that has long interested me. As they 'disappear' from public view I can not envisage a situation that would permit their return. I can't see them but many in the USA still have a chance to see some of these things before they go or are removed to the ignominy of being left lying on the ground at a sewerage plant.
 

leftyhunter

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I look forward to being able to stop abiding by contracts and covenants just because I feel differently now than I did when I agreed to them. Nice to know that's an option. Or is that just in the state of Virginia?
Virginia can not be stuck on the past. The Confedracy lost it's not coming back . The future of Virginia is in it's big city maternity wards. Virginia will not be a majority white state in a few decades. It's fine to study the past but Virginia can not worship the ideals of the Confedracy.
Leftyhunter
 
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TWO HISTORIANS (GAINES AND AYERS) LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR ANY COURT ANYWHERE 'FEELING' A MONUMENT/GRAVE/MEMORIAL/PARK/BATTLEFIELD THAT NO LONGER REPRESENTS 'OUR MODERN SOCIETY' CAN BE REMOVED.

HERE IS WHAT THAT SAID IN THE HEARING:

. . .Dr. Gaines attested that, in the 130 years that followed the erection of the Lee Monument, the emerging public consensus viewed Confederate monuments as a “troubling presence” in contemporary society because many believe that honoring the Confederacy through public monuments is tantamount to revering Confederacy’s defense of the institution of slavery. Dr. Gaines testified that the Lee Monument, in particular, has become associated with a message that many believe contradicts the values of equality, inclusion, and diversity. In 1902, Virginia passed a new state constitution which was specifically designed to disenfranchise African American voters, and which effectively did so with grim efficiency for half a century.

. . . circumstances and conditions existing at the time the 1890 Deed was signed have radically changed. As the Governor’s expert witnesses testified, the Lee Monument was erected as a symbol of defiance to Reconstruction, and as an unapologetic statement regarding the continued belief in the virtue of the “Lost Cause” and in the Confederacy’s pre-Civil War way of life, including the subjugation of people of African descent. The post-Reconstruction proliferation of Confederate monuments was contemporaneous with and closely related to the passage of racially discriminatory policies, such as those included in the 1902 Constitution of Virginia. However, over the last 130 years, enforcement of the principles derived from the Reconstruction Amendments of the United States Constitution has led to the invalidation of many public policies that emerged contemporaneously with and related to the post-Reconstruction erection of Confederate monuments, such as the Lee Monument.

. . .The Governor’s evidence shows that at the time that the Commonwealth accepted the Lee Monument, the Lee Monument was a tribute to the southern citizenry’s pre-Civil War way of life. The record further shows, however, that at present, the Commonwealth’s continued display of the Lee Monument communicates principles that many believe to be inconsistent with the values the Commonwealth currently wishes to express
 

19thGeorgia

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"...the Lee Monument communicates principles that many believe to be inconsistent with the values the Commonwealth currently wishes to express..."

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I was going to post Northam's "values" but that might be considered too political.
 

Viper21

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I really thought the monument would stand, & that the heathens in Richmond would be held accountable for the damage to it. Virginia literally accepted this monument with the conditions, & understanding it would remain, & be protected.

A majority of Virginians were opposed to it's removal. An issue as hot as this one, should've been made a ballot referendum. They didn't want to do that because, it would have remained in place.

I'm sure the violent city of Richmond will turn in to some Utopia when the mean Robert E Lee statue is gone.

This whole thing makes me sick, & ashamed of my beloved Virginia. Puke. 🤮
 

Jamieva

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I really thought the monument would stand, & that the heathens in Richmond would be held accountable for the damage to it. Virginia literally accepted this monument with the conditions, & understanding it would remain, & be protected.

A majority of Virginians were opposed to it's removal. An issue as hot as this one, should've been made a ballot referendum. They didn't want to do that because, it would have remained in place.

I'm sure the violent city of Richmond will turn in to some Utopia when the mean Robert E Lee statue is gone.

This whole thing makes me sick, & ashamed of my beloved Virginia. Puke. 🤮
I did a simple google search and found at least 2 Polls that support taking it down. You can get whatever results you want out of a poll based on the wording and who you survey. the only really poll that matters are statewide elections.
 
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Virginia can not be stuck on the past. The Confedracy lost it's not coming back . The future of Virginia is in it's big city maternity wards. Virginia will not be a majority white state in a few decades. It's fine to study the past but Virginia can not worship the ideals of the Confedracy.
Leftyhunter
Then Virginia couldn't honor any history from before the CW, including Union soldiers who went to war with the stated intention of preserving slavery where it existed ........as it's the same ideal of continuing an existing practice, and the same they did after the ARW, just continue colonial practices........
 

Andersonh1

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Historians testified that the monument was erected during a time of racial injustice and did not reflect our diverse modern society. How many monuments were erected to 'anyone' during America's time of racial in justice ( I assume 1776 to 2020)?
That makes them all susceptible to a judge ruling they dont reflect our now racially diverse country.

You've hit the nail on the head here, and I believe taking them all down is the ultimate goal. Because all historical figures that we as a society used to admire fail to live up to our oh-so-lofty modern standards. Forget duty, honor, love of home and love of country, none of those virtues matter. If someone got race relations wrong, they have to go. It's madness to make that the sole standard by which historical figures are judged, but that's where we are.
 
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Fact is slavery and slave owning were accepted practice and continued in our Colonial, United States and Confederate History. Acknowledging that fact or the figures of those times doesn't seem glorifying or worshiping it at all, but is simply being honest that it was and acknowledging the actual significant figures of the time.

If a state was a Confederate state, the Confederacy is indeed part of its history and heritige. The same as if a state was a colony, colonial history is part of its history and heritage as well. Or the Texas Republic is as well to Texas. Even my state shares a limited French colonial history and heritage, largely confined to the major waterways.
 
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Andersonh1

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All of our history is under the gun. It's a dangerous thing, because so much of our identity as Americans comes from our history and from those men and women in that history that we admire, so what exactly is going to define an American if all of that history is made toxic? Are we going to have a national identity crisis? WW2 is the "greatest generation", and most of us have probably known someone who is a veteran of that war, but suddenly they're a problem? All eight of my grandmother's brothers fought in WW2. This is just not a healthy trend.
 
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Viper21

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I did a simple google search and found at least 2 Polls that support taking it down. You can get whatever results you want out of a poll based on the wording and who you survey. the only really poll that matters are statewide elections.
As big a deal as this was, it should've been a ballot referendum. There have been multiple issues put to referendums that weren't as heated as this. That wasn't done because the rats in charge would've lost.

The same rats will never admit the millions of dollars they are losing over this issue. They don't care. Staggering amounts of money were spent by people visiting Richmond. What do you think they were spending their cash to see...? Monument ave was top of the list, right along with the former MOC, Confederate White House, & Tredegar. This will have effectively removed it all.

Is Richmond better off ...? I suspect they will remain one of the most violent, crime ridden places in Virginia. All the mean Confederate statues will be gone though...... :laugh:
 

atlantis

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As big a deal as this was, it should've been a ballot referendum. There have been multiple issues put to referendums that weren't as heated as this. That wasn't done because the rats in charge would've lost.

The same rats will never admit the millions of dollars they are losing over this issue. They don't care. Staggering amounts of money were spent by people visiting Richmond. What do you think they were spending their cash to see...? Monument ave was top of the list, right along with the former MOC, Confederate White House, & Tredegar. This will have effectively removed it all.

Is Richmond better off ...? I suspect they will remain one of the most violent, crime ridden places in Virginia. All the mean Confederate statues will be gone though...... :laugh:
Well these people don't really care about the welfare of people. It is simple divide an conquer.
 

GwilymT

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Well these people don't really care about the welfare of people. It is simple divide an conquer.
Didn’t the people of Virginia elect the governor? Don’t polls taken in both Richmond and Virginia show that the people no longer want this monument? I know that confederates and their sympathizers don’t really like free and fair elections, they seceded over one, I also think they have a limited definition of the people, but holy moley. It seems the people are actually speaking and winning here- that certain folks disagree is immaterial.
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