Herring files notice promising to defend Northam’s authority to remove Lee monument

FILE - This Tuesday, June 2, 2020 file photo shows a large group of protesters gather around...
FILE - This Tuesday, June 2, 2020 file photo shows a large group of protesters gather around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue near downtown in Richmond, Va. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce plans Thursday for the removal of an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's prominent Monument Avenue. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 10, 2020 at 4:30 PM EDT
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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed a notice on Wednesday in the ongoing lawsuit over the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument from Richmond's Monument Avenue.

Herring promised to defend the authority of Governor Ralph Northam to remove the statue, which sits on state property in the city of Richmond.

Herring wrote in the notice that “the Governor has both the authority and the moral obligation to remove this badge of white supremacy from its place of exaltation.”

This comes after a Henrico man filed a federal lawsuit to halt Northam’s administration from removing the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee,


The lawsuit, filed on Monday, seeks an emergency injunction barring removal based on the statue's status on the National Register of Historic Places.

The plaintiff seeks a permanent injunction so that Northam and any future governors would be unable to remove it. The man also wants the monument to be cleaned of all vandalism and restored within 10 days.

Northam last week ordered the statue of Lee taken down, citing the pain felt across the country over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.

In Herring’s notice, he said “the statue is a daily reminder of one of the darkest periods in our Commonwealth’s and Nation’s history. The statue does not seek to explain or seek reconciliation for that time: it seeks to glorify it. It is a piece of state property freighted with exclusionary meaning to broad swaths of Virginians.”

Herring also emphasized that the plaintiff did not notify him or Northam of the suit, hearing, or injunction.

A separate civil lawsuit was also filed earlier this week, in which a Richmond judge issued a temporary injunction preventing Northam’s administration from removing the monument for the next 10 days.

That temporary injunction order says the state is a party to a deed recorded in March 1890 whereby it accepted the statue, pedestal and ground they sit on and agreed to “faithfully guard and affectionately protect” them. The injunction was filed by a man who is the great-grandson and heir of Roger and Bettie Gregory, signatories to the deed.

Northam released the following statement regarding the two lawsuits:

“Governor Northam remains committed to removing this divisive symbol from Virginia’s capital city, and we’re confident in his authority to do so.”

View the full notice Herring filed