Virginia attorney general asks judge to dissolve injunction blocking removal of Robert E. Lee statue

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is asking a new judge to dissolve an injunction that blocks the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond.

According to a brief filed Monday, William C. Gregory, of Virginia, who claims to be a descendant of the owner who agreed to transfer the land on which the statue is located, “lacks standing to block removal of the statue, and that even if he had standing it wouldn’t matter because the plan to remove the statue is lawful.”

Herring said that Gregory is insisting on his preference that the statue remain, and that no one may force a sovereign Commonwealth to “forever continue broadcasting a message with which it profoundly disagrees or to display and maintain on government-owned property a massive statue of a person symbolic of a time it no longer wishes to glorify.”

Gregory argued that removal of the statue violates an 1890 deed in which Virginia, having been transferred the land the statue sits on, agreed to “faithfully guard and affectionately protect it,” CNN reported.

Robert E. Lee was a Virginian who was the commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

Herring said that Gregory’s claims are the opposite of the “principles of democratic governance.”

Last June, Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the statue on Monument Avenue.

Days after Northam’s announcement, a judge issued a 10-day block to the order of the statue’s removal.

On June 18, Richmond Circuit Judge Bradley Cavedo dismissed Gregory’s case for lack of standing but extended an injunction barring removal of the statue so Gregory could amend his claim.

Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant, who replaced Cavedo after he recused himself, is set to hear a request for a permanent injunction Thursday.

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