Early in February, the City of Charlottesville, Virginia voted to remove several statues commemorating Confederate generals Lee and Jackson that stood in the town for nearly 100 years. Now the town is being sued to prevent the removal.
In a three to two vote on February 6, the Charlottesville City Council moved to eliminate the equestrian statue memorializing Confederate General Robert E. Lee that was first erected 93 years ago in the city’s Lee Park. After the vote, city leaders also vowed to erase Lee’s name from the park.
The decision sparked several weeks of protests and meetings of those both in favor of and in opposition to the plan that the city said would cost up to $300,000 to complete.
Now two organizations and 11 local citizens have joined together to file a lawsuit against the city to stop the removal of the statues, according to The Cavalier Daily of the University of Virginia.
The plaintiffs, including the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. and the Monument Fund, Inc., cited a number of reasons for filing the lawsuit. Chief among those reasons is their contention that the city is in violation of a state law preventing alteration of such monuments.
According to state law, it is illegal for local officials to tear down memorials to war veterans.
Virginia code 15.2-1812 reads, “If such [memorials for war veterans] are erected, it shall be unlawful for the authorities of the locality, or any other person or persons, to disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials so erected, or to prevent its citizens from taking proper measures and exercising proper means for the protection, preservation, and care of same.”
In addition, the lawsuit claims that the city is violating the deed written in 1918 by the McIntire family granting permission to create Lee Park.
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