Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, will remain standing as a result of a state judge’s ruling Wednesday in spite of efforts mounted by the local city council.
Circuit Judge Richard E. Moore granted a permanent injunction preventing the removal of statues of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, local news outlets reported.
The injunction was issued at the start of a three-day trial being held over a lawsuit brought against Charlottesville in early 2017 after the city council voted to rid the monuments from two downtown parks, the reports said.
Plaintiffs including the groups Monument Fund, Inc. and the Virginia Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc sued the city that March, and a temporary injunction had previously been issued keeping them in place pending further ruling.
Judge Moore previously ruled that statues are protected under a state law that prevents cities from removing war monuments, and on Wednesday he dealt another blow to the defense by denying they violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, rejecting an argument raised by city attorneys who said the monuments send a discriminatory message to African-Americans.
“People give the statues messages,” said the judge, Charlottesville’s WVIR-TV reported. “They speak of history, one we might not like.”
The rest of the trial will focus on issues related to any costs awarded to the plaintiffs, Charlottesville’s Daily Progress newspaper reported.
Supporters of the Confederate statues infamously held a rally in Charlottesville in August 2017, “Unite the Right,” that culminated in the murder of a counterprotester, Heather Heyer, and triggered calls for the removal of similar monuments throughout the former Confederacy. James Alex Fields Jr. has since been sentenced to life imprisonment on federal hate crime charges for driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heyer and injuring several others.
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