Monument Avenue residents join fight to remove Robert E. Lee statue

Updated: Oct. 30, 2020 at 8:21 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The fight to remove a controversial confederate statue from Richmond is getting some extra legal support.

The group is called Circle Neighbors and members say they are tired of being labeled as racist because they live in the shadow of the Robert E. Lee statue.

A pro bono attorney representing Circle Neighbors says the group of more than 50 residents is joining the fight to bring down the statue.

“Contrary to public opinion the vast majority of residents of the Monument Avenue historic district want the statue removed and they want a neighborhood that is welcoming,” said Greg Werkheiser, Founding Partner, Attorney at Law Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC.

Thursday, a much small group of Monument Avenue residents said they plan to appeal a Richmond Circuit Court Judge’s decision to allow for the statue removal. That decision came earlier this week.

The following day, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said they would keep up the fight.

“The Lee statue has held a place of prominence and stood as a memorial to Virginia’s racist past in the center of our capital city and it’s been up entirely too long,” said Herring.

By joining any legal fight at the state supreme court, the group hopes to tell a different story of Monument Avenue residents who don’t support the statue.

“They are proof of why the general assembly has changed its public policy related to the Lee monument. This neighborhood is changing. Richmond is evolving and the nation is evolving and our public places ought to be able to evolve with us,” said Werkheiser.

The official appeal still needs to be filed and the supreme court has to agree to hear the case. The state has set aside about $1.1 million to remove the statue and has a plan already on paper to make it happen.

“Bringing that statue down is an important step in the healing and moving forward that is happening right now in our community,” said Herring.

Circle Neighbors is looking for others who live in this area to join the fight. They hope by going public more people will be willing to step up. But they also hope the plaintiffs in the case will have a change of heart.

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