Confederate monuments trial gets underway in Charlottesville

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCAV) — A three-day trial has begun in a long-pending case involving a Charlottesville city decision to remove Confederate monuments from two city parks.

A Charlottesville judge heard arguments Wednesday morning concerning the 2017 city decision to remove the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Earlier this year, the same judge ruled the monuments are war memorials and cannot be removed under existing state law.

On Wednesday, the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on the Equal Protection Clause, saying the intent of the current state law is not to discriminate because it includes all wars in American history.

Attorney Buddy Webber is calling the ruling a victory.

"Frankly, the rule of law has been vindicated here, which is what this case has been about for the last two years," he said. "I've spent two years appearing before you people trying to explain exactly what this case is about. Every time I've come here, I've said it's about the rule of law. The judge just vindicated the rule of law. So we're proud of our efforts here."

The judge still has two other issues to consider.

First, he must determine if there was any damage done to the statues when the city placed massive black tarps over them for several months.

He must then also make a ruling on attorneys fees. The plaintiffs have asked the court to award them $500,000.