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Lee and Jackson statues are monuments and memorials

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//May 13, 2019

Lee and Jackson statues are monuments and memorials

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//May 13, 2019

Statues erected in the city of Charlottesville of Civil War General Robert E. Lee and Lt. General Thomas Jonathon Jackson are “monuments or memorials,” as mentioned in Code § 15.2-1812, says a 16th Judicial Circuit Court judge.

Plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of whether the statues of the two generals “are monuments or memorials to one of the wars listed in Va. Code § 15.2-1812 or to a veteran of such wars.”

Discussion and ruling

“It is not disputed in the evidence and arguments of counsel that the two statues that are the subject of this controversy are of Civil War Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathon ‘Stonewell’ Jackson, both of the Confederacy. …

“Both are in their military uniforms and dress, on horses associated with each of them during the tragic conflict. There is no dispute that the statue of Lee is of Lee sitting straight on his horse Traveller who appears to be in a walk, and the statue of Jackson is with him riding on his horse Little Sorrel, and appears to be in battle or riding toward it. On the Jackson statue there are the names of three engagements associated with Jackson, Manassas, the Valley Campaign, and Chancellorsville (where he died). There appears to be no writing on the Lee statue, besides his name.”

At the May 2, 2017, injunction hearing, defense counsel Robertson acknowledged in closing argument, that “‘[t]he testimony established that the statue is a monument to Robert E. Lee, and the Jackson statue is a memorial to General Jackson.’ … That, coupled with the other evidence presented, is enough for Plaintiffs to prevail on this point. …

“A monument or memorial, in its common usage, denotes an edifice, structure, statue, or other piece of art to remember, honor, or note the significance of a person, event, or thing. … It is hard to see, on the evidence before the Court, how these statues do not have a primary purpose, function, and effect of remembering or calling to mind and honoring these two men as generals in the Civil War and the battles they fought in, and what they did and stood for. …

“I find that there is no other reasonable conclusion but that these statues are monuments and memorials to Lee and Jackson, as Generals of the Confederate States of America, and that as such they are monuments or memorials to veterans of one of the wars listed in Va. Code § 15.2-1812. I find this conclusion inescapable.”

Payne, et al. v. City of Charlottesville, et al. Case No. CL 17-145, April 25, 2019; 16th Judicial Ct. (Moore). Ralph E. Main Jr., S. Braxton Puryear, Kevin C. Walsh, Lisa Robertson, William V. O’Reilly, Esha Kshemal Mandoki, Richard H. Milnor for the parties. VLW 019-8-042, 9 pp.

VLW 019-8-042

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