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Gen. Lee statue can be removed, Virginia Supreme Court rules

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 9:44 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2021 at 5:19 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) — The Virginia Department of General Services is making plans to quickly remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue. The multi-day removal should start next week.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall and the harder it is to get them down,” said State Delegate Lamont Bagby, (D) 74th District.

In June 2020, Governor Ralph Northam ordered the Lee statue removal, but that decision got embroiled in litigation including numerous lawsuits, defendants and appeals until now.

In their unanimous ruling, the state supreme court justices said, “values change and public policy changes too” in a democracy.

“We are glad this was a unanimous decision, and we look forward to telling the full story of Virginia’s history,” Robert Barnette, Jr., Virginia State Conference NAACP President.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says this is a historic day for the commonwealth, and he hopes this is the final chapter for the Confederate controversy. The statue, its pedestal and the land around it are state-owned.

“Let me say this - if they try, we will be there to oppose it. This statue is coming, and I really hope that the parties in the case and the lawyers who are representing them see the strength and the power of the decision,” said Mark Herring, (D) Virginia Attorney General.

A plan for the entire removal process was approved last year, which includes cutting up the statue so they can transport it away. Another phase of the plan deals with the removal of the granite base at a later point.

“I think the Supreme Court did a fine job of following what I believe is where the commonwealth is today. And that is where we are moving toward - justice in every corner of the commonwealth and every facet of the commonwealth,” said Delegate Bagby.

There will be a public viewing area when this happens. A lot of streets will be blocked off in this area for multiple days. There are also security concerns.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.