City sues to remove Confederate monument, citing free speech

City sues to remove Confederate monument, citing free speech
This monument to Jefferson Davis sits on Monument Avenue in Richmond and is protected by the same law as the Norfolk monument.

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Virginia's second largest city is suing the state in an attempt to remove an 80-foot (24-meter) Confederate monument from its downtown.

The city of Norfolk's suit was filed Monday in federal court and targets a Virginia law that prevents the removal of war memorials.

The suit claims the city's free speech rights are being violated because it's being forced to project a message it no longer supports. The 1907 monument was erected at a time when the South was being romanticized and slavery was de-emphasized.

Council members voted in 2017 to move the monument to a cemetery.

University of Virginia law professor Richard Schragger said Norfolk is employing a relatively novel and untested legal strategy in federal court. The main legal question is whether cities have free speech rights.

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