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Attorney General of Virginia

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING CELEBRATES THE REMOVAL OF THE LEE STATUE

RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the below statement celebrating the removal of the Lee statue:

 

“Today is a momentous day in Virginia’s history,” said Attorney General Herring. “For over 130 years, the Lee statue has stood as a daily reminder of a racist past, but that past does not define the Virginia of today, or the Virginia of tomorrow. It is time to use our public spaces to tell the Commonwealth’s full story and to tell it truthfully.

 

 

“Symbols matter, and with the removal of the Lee statue, the Commonwealth takes an essential step on its journey towards becoming more open, fair, welcoming, and just for everyone. I have been dedicated to removing the Lee statue from its place of prominence and it is incredibly rewarding to see it finally come down. I want to thank my team for their incredibly hard work on this case, as well as Governor Northam for his leadership.”

 

For over a year, Attorney General Herring has been dedicated to removing the Lee statue. In June 2020, following Governor Northam’s decision to take down the statue, Attorney General Herring filed a notice in the Lee statue lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court that he “intend[ed] to defend the Governor’s decision and ensure the removal of this divisive relic.” In July 2020, he filed a brief defending the removal of the state-owned Lee statue and asked the Court to dissolve the injunction that was in place barring the removal of the statue, and later that month, he and his team presented arguments to Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant. On October 27, 2020, Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant ruled in favor of Attorney General Herring in finding that the Lee statue’s removal was lawful, but the ruling was stayed pending appeal.

 

In January 2021, the Plaintiffs who were fighting to keep the state-owned Lee statue up appealed the lower court’s ruling, and later that month, Attorney General Herring asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to reject this appeal. He also asked SCOVA, if they chose to hear the appeal, to do so as quickly as possible. In April 2021, Attorney General Herring filed a brief asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to uphold the Richmond Circuit Court’s ruling that removal of the Lee statue is lawful and to dissolve the injunction that was preventing the Commonwealth from taking the state-owned statue down. At this time, several amicus briefs were also submitted in support of Attorney General Herring’s efforts to remove the statue. On June 7, 2021, Attorney General Herring and his team presented arguments to the Supreme Court of Virginia about why the injunction should be dissolved and the state-owned Lee statue should be removed once and for all.

 

During his term, Attorney General Herring has taken numerous steps to remove racist Confederate iconography from public spaces. He has long called for the removal of Confederate monuments and repeal of the law that protected these monuments, and this session his team worked on the legislation to repeal it. In September 2020, Attorney General Herring filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to lift an injunction that was preventing Charlottesville from removing city-owned Confederate monuments. He also worked to allow Norfolk to remove a Confederate monument, helped remove a Confederate flag from city property in Danville, wrote an opinion that facilitated the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway in parts of Northern Virginia, and won a court case to remove the Confederate battle flag from Virginia license plates.

 

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