2 get jail for removing Confederate statues' mourning tarps

Published: Mar. 27, 2018 at 10:22 AM EDT
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Two men have been convicted of removing multiple times the tarps that covered Confederate statues to mourn the counterprotester killed during last August's violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

Brian Roland Lambert and Christopher James Wayne were sentenced to eight months and five months, respectively, on trespassing and vandalism charges related to removing tarps from the statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

The tarps were torn down several times until a judge

in February.

Attorney Charles Weber sued the city after council voted to remove the monuments last year. He said it's a protected war monument, which, under Virginia law makes it "unlawful for the authorities of the locality, or any other person or persons, to disturb or interfere with" any war monuments.

The city argued that state law applied only to war memorials built after the law was amended in 1998 (the statute was originally codified in the 1950s, after the statues were erected in the 1920s).

Late last year, a judge ruled the Jackson Statue meets criteria of being a war memorial but also chose to let the tarps stay.

On February 27, Judge Richard E. Moore ruled that the Robert E. Lee statue qualifies as well, but said the city was within its authority to rename Jackson Park to Justice Park. The tarps were removed the following day.

On Monday, Judge Joseph Sirks said he assigned jail time for misdemeanor charges to emphasize the importance of following the legal process.

Lambert said he'd appeal, but also said they would take their punishment "like men." During the appeals process, the men wouldn't have to report to jail.