Gov. Northam still confident Robert E. Lee statue will come down despite civil lawsuit filed

Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With a legal challenge now blocking the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Governor Ralph Northam is still confident it will come down.

“We’ve been preparing for this for a year. This is a statue that is divisive," Northam said. "It needs to come down and we are on very legal solid grounds to have it taken down.”

Northam’s administration wants an expedited hearing.

Monday, a Richmond circuit court judge issued a 10-day injunction over the statue removal on Monument Avenue. A descendant of the original deed holder is mounting the civil case.

“Let’s be clear about one major thing here, though this monument was cast in the image of General Robert E. Lee, the purpose of this monument was to recast Virginia’s history," Rita Davis, Counsel for Governor Northam said. "To recast it to fit a narrative that minimized the devastating evil perpetrated on African Americans during the darkest part of our past.”

The governor's attorney says they weren't told about Monday's 4 PM hearing and never got a chance to argue their case.

“That is by no means the end of this issue. It is only the beginning,” Davis said.

Northam also announced he met with the Virginia association of police chiefs. The association has a list of police policy recommendations and notes the decreasing numbers of qualified individuals entering the police profession. Some changes include uniform data collection, crisis intervention training and ways to hold police more accountable.

“How we can turn our listening and learn into policy, how we can turn it into action,” Northam said.

The governor says they are working on policing policy, but he plans to meet with activists and others. The Virginia General Assembly could take up some changes during a special session likely later this summer and then again in January.

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