RICHMOND, Va. -- A judge has sided with Richmond officials in a lawsuit over whether the Virginia city can remove a final Confederate monument and the remains of a rebel general interred beneath it.
Circuit Court Judge David Eugene Cheek Sr. said in a ruling Tuesday that city officials — not the descendants of A.P. Hill — get to decide where the statue goes next, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and TV station WRIC reported. The city plans to give the statue to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, which the plaintiffs found objectionable.
The plaintiffs, who were indirect descendants of Hill, did not oppose the removal of the general's remains to a cemetery in Culpeper, near where Hill was born. But they argued that the ownership of the statue should be transferred to them. They hoped to move it to a battlefield, also in Culpeper, according to the news outlets.
“We’re gratified by Judge Cheek’s ruling," Mayor Levar Stoney said in a statement.
The city, which was the capital of the Confederacy for most of the Civil War, began removing its many other Confederate monuments more than two years ago amid the racial justice protests that followed George Floyd's murder. Richmond conveyed them to the Black History Museum earlier this year. But efforts to remove the A.P. Hill statue, which sits in the middle of a busy intersection near a school where traffic accidents are frequent, were more complicated because the general's remains were underneath it.
Scott Braxton Puryear, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Times-Dispatch that he wasn't sure if his clients would appeal. The statue won't be removed before the window for an appeal expires, the newspaper reported.
“We look forward to a successful conclusion of the legal process, which will allow us to relocate Hill’s remains, remove and transfer the statue to the Black History Museum and, importantly, improve traffic safety," Stoney's statement said.