RICHMOND, Va. – RICHMOND, Va.A judge in Richmond has issued an injunction preventing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration from removing an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee for 10 days.
The temporary injunction order issued Monday says the state is a party to a deed recorded in March 1890 in which it accepted the statue, pedestal and ground they sit on and agreed to “faithfully guard" and “affectionately protect” them.
It is in the public interest to await resolution of the case on the merits prior to removal of the statue, the order says.
The lawsuit was filed by William C. Gregory, who is described in the complaint as a descendant of two signatories to the deed. Named as defendants are Northam and the director of the Department of General Services, the agency tasked with handling the removal.
“(Gregory's) family has taken pride for 130 years in this statue resting upon land belonging to his family and transferred to the Commonwealth in consideration of the Commonwealth contractually guaranteeing to perpetually care for and protect the Lee Monument,” the lawsuit says.
Northam's spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, said in a statement that the governor's administration is still reviewing the order.
“Governor Northam remains committed to removing this divisive symbol from Virginia's capital city, and we're confident in his authority to do so," she said.
Northam last week ordered the statue of Lee taken down, citing the pain felt across the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.