Judge says statue at center of Charlottesville protests must stay

Judge says statue at center of Charlottesville protests must stay
© CBS 19

A Virginia state judge ruled Wednesday that statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson that were at the center of 2017 protests must remain standing in Charlottesville, Va.

Circuit Judge Richard Moore ruled that Virginia state law prohibits moving war memorials and that moving the statues would break that law.

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Moore issued a permanent injunction preventing the statues from being moved at the beginning of a trial over a lawsuit brought against the city by groups that wanted to preserve the statues.

People pressing for the statues to be moved argued it was wrong to celebrate generals who had fought to preserve slavery. But Moore seemed to argue that the statues themselves did not have such a meaning.

"People give the statues messages," NBC29 reported Moore said to the attorneys. "They speak of history, one we might not like."

The city of Charlottesville had argued that stopping the statue's removal went against the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment by portraying a racist message.

Moore had already ruled the city could not take down the statues without permission from the state.

Moore noted in April that his rulings do not affect how a jury would decide the case if it came to that point.

Charlottesville's original attempts to take down the statue of Lee in February 2017 erupted into an August white nationalist rally, where a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd and left one person dead.