Virginia Judge W. Reilly Marchant ruled on Tuesday that Richmond’s Robert E. Lee memorial — the subject and centerpiece of BLM/Antifa rioters and violence over the last several months — can be removed by an order of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
More from National Public Radio:
The lawsuit was brought by a group of Richmond residents who live near the statue after Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the statue removed in June. The order has been mired in legal battles since, and injunctions have prevented its removal.
The judge wrote that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the legal authority to remove the monument after it successfully argued that the 19th-century convenants the plaintiffs used to try to block the removal “would be in violation of the current public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
“We are one step closer to a more equitable and honest Virginia,” Northam tweeted after the ruling.
The Lee Monument itself was commissioned in 1876, long before the so-called “Lost Cause” movement and well before Virginia Democrats imposed a policy of Jim Crow laws, undoing most of the Republican civil rights legislation under William Mahone and the Readjusters in the late 19th century.
The Lee Monument was completed in 1890 and was gifted to the City of Richmond “in perpetuity” — a phrase that has oddly enough come under scrutiny by some legal scholars to be defined as a period of 99 years.