Confederate Statue Removal Cleared by State Supreme Court

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Confederate Statue Removal Cleared by State Supreme Court

Charlottesville, Virginia, can take down statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the state’s high court has ruled.


In 2017, city officials voted to remove the two statues after a “Unite the Right” rally turned violent in Charlottesville. However, an area group sued the city, saying a 1997 law forbade the removal of “war memorials” by cities. 


The Supreme Court disagreed. Justices determined that this law did not apply to the two statues in Charlottesville because they were erected prior to the law’s enactment. They held that laws apply prospectively -- going forward -- not retroactively, so it could not prohibit the removal of statues erected prior to when it was passed. Charlottesville is now free to take down these statues.


This is a victory for those who consider statues to Confederate officials part of a legacy of white supremacy. They argue that these statues and other historical markers condone racism and send a negative message to minorities. Supporters of the statues counter that they are only commemorating history and not sending a political message.


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