- Nov 15, 2019
They are coming after the Museum of the Confederacy and the United Daughters of the Confederacy buildings next. If the trustees of those institutions have any sense, they should be looking to get out of Richmond to somewhere safer. The protestors already tried to burn down the UDC building with all its priceless treasures once, luckily their attempt at arson was fairly inept.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 RichmondIn 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.