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Virginia judge grants injunction indefinitely barring Northam from removing Robert E. Lee statue

The plaintiff argues that a removal would violate the original terms of the deed his great-grandparents signed granting the state ownership of the land

Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia
Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
Updated: June 18, 2020 - 1:34pm

A judge in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday granted an indefinite injunction that prevents Gov. Ralph Northam from removing the statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee from state property on Monument Avenue.

Earlier this month, the Democratic governor announced that he planned to remove the 60-foot Lee statue that has long spurred debate in Richmond. 

Circuit Judge Bradley B. Cavedo initially granted a 10-day temporary injunction, which he extended indefinitely Thursday. However, Cavedo has given the plaintiff 21 days to amend the complaint, which he believes is flawed. A follow-up hearing is scheduled for July 23.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill that allows localities to remove war memorials on their own property, which Northam signed into law earlier this year.

A lawsuit filed by William C. Gregory, the great-grandson of the couple who were signatories to the deed that granted the state the site of the statue in 1890, contends that the governor's effort to remove the statue violates the terms of the original agreement. 

A lawyer for Gregory argues that the state promised to "affectionately protect" the statue. Gregory's lawyer also filed a letter addressing a rumor that an 18-wheel truck is planning to arrive at the monument to tear it down. He has asked the judge and the governor to deploy "the state police and other force as is necessary" to ensure that does not happen.

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