Judge Blocks Removal Of Confederate Statues In Charlottesville
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Two years ago, after deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., several American cities decided to rid themselves of Confederate monuments. A similar effort has been underway in the Charlottesville courts. But as Hawes Spencer from member station VPM reports, that action ended last week with the monuments firmly in place.
HAWES SPENCER, BYLINE: Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, cast in bronze and astride their horses, tower over two downtown parks here, and they'll continue to do so after a judge's rulings. One of the plaintiffs who sued the city to keep the statues was Buddy Weber.
BUDDY WEBER: I would characterize it as a win. We have prevailed on the action. We've got a permanent injunction against removing the statues, and the judge is going to award us a substantial portion of our attorney's fees.
SPENCER: A Virginia state law forbids moving war memorials. And the judge took note of the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing a stone cross honoring World War I dead to remain standing in Maryland. And he said there was nothing unconstitutional about Virginia's law.
Legal analyst Scott Goodman.
SCOTT GOODMAN: The judge is not saying that he personally believes the statues are the right thing for the city to have in the middle of these two parks downtown. The judge is simply saying that the law in Virginia protects those statues.
SPENCER: Goodman says that people troubled by the statues, which were erected during the Jim Crow era and have been widely denounced as symbols of white supremacy, possess another option.
GOODMAN: The remedy for those who want to remove the statues is to change that law, and that may very well happen one day.
SPENCER: That day could come as soon as this winter, since Virginia recently redrew its voting districts to more fairly gather votes from Democrats, many of whom favor changing the law. And all 140 seats in the state legislature are up for grabs in November.
For NPR News, I'm Hawes Spencer in Charlottesville.
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