Judge hits pause button on removal of slave auction block

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FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A judge in Virginia has hit the pause button on a city's plans to remove a 175-year-old slave auction block from a city's downtown street corner.

The Free Lance-Star reported Monday that Circuit Court Judge Sarah Deneke has agreed to a 15-day stay of her order to remove the block in Fredericksburg.

Her order allows a business owner who is challenging the removal to ask the Virginia Supreme Court to take on the case.

E.D. Cole Building LLC owns a commercial building across the street from the auction block. The firm and the owner of a nearby restaurant have argued that they'll lose business from tourist traffic if the auction block is removed.

The judge already ruled that city officials have the authority to approve the removal the block. The city had previously placed traffic cones around the block with plans to move it before the business owner urged the court to stop the city.

The judge on Monday denied the business owner's request for a temporary injunction to stop the removal while an appeal is heard. But she only allowed time for the state Supreme Court to possibly intervene.

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Feb. 21

A business owner in Virginia is seeking an emergency temporary restraining order to prevent a slave auction block from being removed from downtown Fredericksburg.

The Free Lance-Star reported that a motion was filed Wednesday on the behalf of E.D. Cole Building LLC. It owns a commercial building across the street.

The building owner and the owner of a nearby restaurant have argued that they'll lose business from tourist traffic if the auction block is removed. A judge ruled this month that city officials have the authority to approve the removal of a 176-year-old auction block.

The city has plans to move the auction block to a museum and to place a kiosk with information where it once stood.

An appeal is being made to the Virginia Supreme Court. But the emergency motion was filed after the city placed traffic cones and informed nearby businesses that it would soon be removed.

The traffic cones were then removed. A Fredericksburg Circuit Court judge has scheduled a hearing for Monday afternoon to consider the requested restraining order.