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Virginia Supreme Court lifts injunction banning removal of Confederate Monuments

Racial Injustice Confederate Monuments
Posted at 4:59 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 14:16:01-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- An injunction barring the removal of additional Confederate statues in Richmond has been lifted, paving the way for the removal of the city's final Confederate statue.

The Supreme Court of Virginia on Thursday ruled that the July 2020 injunction banning the removal of Confederate war statues by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney was "an error of law" and is no longer valid.

The injunction was established after an anonymous plaintiff filed a complaint arguing that in removing Confederate monuments, Stoney had "deliberately circumvented the new statutory procedures for removing war memorials" and "usurped the Richmond City Council's sole authority to determine their final disposition."

In its ruling, the court determined that the anonymous plaintiff who challenged Stoney’s decision is “not entitled to a temporary injunction,“ and that "the Circuit Court abused its discretion in determining otherwise."

According to court documents, the plaintiff alleged that by ordering the removal of war memorials before a public hearing could occur, Mayor Stoney left all interested persons "without a voice or recourse," and "denied the plaintiff the statutory right to present his or her views at the hearing required."

The plaintiff also argued that an "emergency order" declared by Stoney in order to remove the statues was unlawful.

The Supreme Court found that the injunction granted by a Richmond Circuit Court was "an error of law," and that the court "abused its discretion" in ordering it.

"Because Anonymous failed to allege a potentially viable right of action, he or she was not entitled to a temporary injunction. The circuit court abused its discretion in determining otherwise, and we vacate the temporary injunction," the Court said.

In pledging to remove 11 statues throughout the first week of July, Stoney said that the monuments presented a severe, immediate, and growing threat to public safety.

Starting on July 1, crews removed the statues dedicated to Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue and Confederate Soldiers’ and Sailors’ in Libby Hill Park. Crews also took away cannons and plaques on the Jefferson Davis Monument.

"It's my job, my number one responsibility is to protect life and property. And I thought that we couldn't take one more day to risk life for property here in the city of Richmond. And that's why we removed those monuments yesterday," said the mayor.

The final city-owned Confederate monument of A.P. Hill still remains in the intersection of West Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road. It's also the location where Hill is buried.

A city administration official told CBS 6 in July that they will need to determine the rules governing the alteration, removal, and relocation of a monument that sits atop a gravesite.

A separate lawsuit regarding the state-owned Robert E. Lee Statue in Richmond will take place in October.