09/16/2019 06:05 am ET
A Virginia judge has blocked efforts by Charlottesville city leaders to remove the Confederate statue at the center of the deadly white supremacist violence in the city in 2017.
Judge Richard Moore of Charlottesville Circuit Court ruled Friday that removing the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee would violate a state law protecting war memorials, The Daily Progress reported.
Moore issued a permanent injunction to prevent the removal of both Lee’s statue and also a separate monument to Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson which city leaders had also hoped to take down.
The ruling marks the near-end of a lawsuit that has dragged through the courts for more than two years.
Charlottesville city council voted in 2017 to remove the two statues which they criticized as being vestiges of a racist time.
The monuments, erected in downtown Charlottesville in the 1920s during the Jim Crow era, “were part of a regime of city-sanctioned segregation that denied African-Americans equal access to government and public spaces,” attorneys for the city said in court filings earlier this year, per The New York Times.
“The fact that certain Charlottesville residents are unaware of the statues’ history does not change that history or the messages the statues send,” the lawyers added.