AG Herring: State law allows removal of some monuments

Updated: Aug. 25, 2017 at 6:19 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Amidst the debate over removing Confederate statues and monuments across the state, Attorney General Mark Herring issued an advisory opinion saying that localities can remove or relocate a war or veterans monument as long as there are no restrictions from local government.

Herring says there are three categories of legal restrictions that may affect the authority of a local government:

  • The application of 15.2-1812 of the Code of Virginia to the particular monument.
  • A number of monuments are subject to individual Acts of Assembly governing their construction and maintenance.
  • Some monuments may be subject to restrictions found in instruments transferring ownership of the monument to the locality or local government entity or restrictions imposed as a result of subsequent actions of the locality.

In his interpretation of the law, Herring says localities must investigate the circumstances surrounding the monument to determine which legal restrictions may apply.

Herring's opinion does not create or change the law.

The Virginia Flaggers issued a response to Herring's opinion:

The timing of his announcement is not coincidental.  Since Governor McAuliffe did an about face on his previous and numerous promises to protect all war memorials, chose to exploit the tragedy in Charlottesville for political gain, and  called for their removal across the Commonwealth, the political backlash has been swift and severe.  In poll after poll, conducted after the rioting in Charlottesville earlier this month, citizens overwhelmingly voiced their beliefs that monuments should remain and not be removed or destroyed.  The outrage in watching memorial stones dragged out of cemeteries and off of pedestals at county courthouses, all in the name of political correctness and to appease howling and violent mobs, has led to a massive backlash as angry citizens call for swift action to prevent the destruction of America's history and heritage.

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie finally found an issue to excite his base.  His announcement that he would protect our monuments has boosted his support and his numbers in the polls as undecided voters get behind him to save our monuments.  The Republican controlled General Assembly is not likely to do anything to change the existing law, something that has McAuliffe and other Democrats grasping at straws to find a way to implement their monument destruction plans.

We are confident that the citizens of Virginia will see this announcement for exactly what it is:  Political Grandstanding at its worst.  His opinion, which is all this is,  mirrors that of his political party and is not grounded in lawn nor binding in any court of law.  The law is clear and needs no partisan interpretation.  We are confident that we will have victory in court next week in regards to the Charlottesville LEE Monument, and that the issue of monument protection in Virginia will be settled and put to rest once and for all.

We are prepared to fight for each and every monument and memorial, and each and the memory and honor of every soldier they represent.

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