… the deed for the land included a promise to “affectionately protect” the statue.
A judge in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday temporarily blocked Gov. Ralph Northam’s order to tear down a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that has towered over a traffic circle since it was erected 130 years ago.
Northam, who is still in office despite his past blackface antics, ordered on Thursday the statue to be removed because “it was wrong then and it is wrong now.”
The 14-foot equestrian statue and its 50-foot base stand atop land annexed from Henrico County in 1890. In the deed recording for the land transfer, the state “guaranteed” to “hold said statue and pedestal and circle of ground perpetually sacred to the monumental purpose” and to “faithfully guard it and affectionately protect it,” Gregory’s lawyer, Joseph E. Blackburn Jr., argued in a court filing Monday.
“Our administration is still reviewing the order,” Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said. “Governor Northam remains committed to removing this divisive symbol from Virginia’s capital city, and we’re confident in his authority to do so.”
According to the website of the Monument Avenue Preservation Society, preparations for the memorial began when Lee died in 1870, but drawing up plans, selecting a sculptor and finding a site took the better part of 17 years. Eventually, the city annexed 292 acres from Henrico County to put the statue on what had been a baseball field on the edge of tobacco farms.