RICHMOND, Va. -- Attorney General Mark Herring and Gov. Ralph Northam are committed to removing the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee despite new efforts to delay the process.
Northam on Thursday announced plans to remove the monument as soon as possible, but a lawsuit filed on Monday and based on the original land deed signed in 1890. has temporarily halted plans to remove the statue.
The legal challenge is filed by William Gregory, who is the great-grandson of one of the original families that signed over the 200-foot diameter land island at Monument and Allen Avenues and alleges that Northam and Virginia officials have failed to protect the Lee Monument grounds and that plans to remove the statue violate the original agreement.
On Wednesday, Herring filed a notice in the Lee monument lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court that he “intends to defend the Governor’s decision and ensure the removal of this divisive relic.”
“The Governor has both the authority and the moral obligation to remove this badge of white supremacy from its place of exaltation," Herring said in the notice. “The statue is a daily reminder of one of the darkest periods in our Commonwealth’s and Nation’s history. The statue does not seek to explain or seek reconciliation for that time: it seeks to glorify it. It is a piece of state property freighted with exclusionary meaning to broad swaths of Virginians.”
Additionally, Herring emphasized that the Plaintiff did not notify the Attorney General or Governor of the suit, hearing, or injunction “despite filing suit in a circuit court less than two blocks away from the Office of the Attorney General,” nor was any notice received from the Court.
"Governor Northam is committed to removing the Lee statue. He understands the frustration and anger at court delays," a statement provided to CBS 6 on behalf of the Northam said,
The statement also warned protesters not to attempt to remove the statue themselves, as happened to the Christopher Columbus statue in Richmond's Byrd Park and the statue of Confederate general Williams Carter Wickham in Monroe Park.
"Protestors should absolutely not attempt to remove the Lee statue themselves. It weighs over 12 tons, stands over 21 feet tall, and would be incredibly dangerous if not safely and professionally removed."