Charlottesville judge: Remove tarps from 2 Confederate statues

WASHINGTON — A judge has ruled that the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, must remove tarps that have covered two Confederate statutes in two city parks for more than six months.

The city had shrouded the statues to mourn the deaths and severe injuries suffered in the Aug. 12 white nationalist protests. Two Virginia state troopers and activist Heather Heyer were killed that day.

Charlottesville Circuit Judge Richard Moore ruled that the city must remove the shrouds from the statue of Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park (formerly Lee Park) and from the statue of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in Justice Park (formerly Jackson Park).

In his letter to the city, Moore recalled that he ruled in October that he saw no harm from the temporary placement of the plastic tarps for the purpose of mourning. The temporary shrouding, the judge said, was “appropriate and not unreasonable” and thus did not violate state law governing war memorials.

But in a Friday letter to the city, the judge pointed out that the statues have been shrouded for more than six months. He believes the City Council “never meant for the coverings to be temporary, but always wanted and intended them to be permanent or at least indefinite.”

The judge said that the City Council has failed to say how long the period of mourning should last, and that covering them for an indefinite period is tantamount to removal, because it keeps the public from seeing the statutes.

City officials said they were disappointed by the judge’s ruling but will respect it. Charlottesville hopes to remove the statutes from the park, but it faces an ongoing court battle in that effort.

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