Confederate statues in Charlottesville vandalized days after court decision

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCAV) -- The Confederate statues in downtown Charlottesville were vandalized late Sunday night or early Monday morning, following a judge's decision in a long-brewing lawsuit last week that the city could not remove them.

Both the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were spray painted with the year "1619." That's the year the first ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia, and the commonwealth has held a large number of events this year to mark 400 years since that date.

The vandalism came just days after a Charlottesville judge ruled that the city must pay plaintiffs' attorneys fees and litigation costs in the lawsuit over the monuments.

Judge Richard Moore ruled that Virginia's state law protecting war memorials from government removal was historic preservation and not discrimination, since it applied to all war monuments, rejecting Charlottesville's argument that the law violated the Constitution by preventing them from taking down statues they argued send a racist message.

The city's parks and rec department cleaned the Lee statue by late morning. The graffiti remained on the Jackson statue at lunchtime on Monday and was scrubbed off later.

Charlottesville Police Department spokesperson Tyler Hawn said vandalizing the statues can be either a misdemeanor or a felony offense, depending on the extent of the damage.

Hawn said police have no suspects at this point.

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