Judge Rules that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee Statue in Charlottesville is a Protected Monument

A judge in Virginia has ruled that the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson standing in Charlottesville are protected monuments that cannot be torn down by the city.

On Monday, Charlottesville Circuit Judge Richard Moore ruled that the Confederate statues are war memorials that are protected by a state law that prevents such memorials from being altered or destroyed, according to CBS 19.

Moore also noted that the City of Charlottesville does not have a legal right to tear the statues down.

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In a nine-page ruling, Moore noted that the generals are depicted in their uniforms and riding horses associated with their service at war and so quality as war memorials.

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“I believe that defendants have confused or conflated 1) what the statues are with 2) the intentions or motivations of some involved in erecting them, or the impact that they might have on some people and how they might make some people feel,” Moore wrote. “But that does not change what they are.”

The judge said that the status of the monuments is clear-cut and that “if the matter went to trial on this issue and a jury were to decide that they are not monuments or memorials to veterans of the civil war, I would have to set such verdict aside as unreasonable.”

The Virginia statute in question is § 15.2-1812, Memorials for war veterans.

Earlier this year, the Virginia House of Delegates nixed a bill that would allow cities to destroy Confederate monuments.

If HB 2377 had passed, it would have allowed municipalities to “remove or provide for the upkeep, maintenance, or contextualization of any monument or memorial for war veterans located in its public space, regardless of when erected.”

The entire question came about when the town of Charlottesville attempted to destroy the two Confederate monuments that have each stood for nearly 100 years in city parks.

The liberal city council decided it wanted no part of its deep Confederate history. But the plans sparked wide protests both for and against the monuments which grew into a larger protest that drew in dangerous members of the left-wing Antifa and White Nationalists that sparked a riot in 2017.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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