RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring applauded the unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of Virginia that clears the way for the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from Monument Avenue during a press briefing Thursday afternoon.
AG Herring said, with the court’s decision, the state can turn the page to a new chapter. History itself was on trial during this case, Herring said.
“The Lee Monument has stood as a daily reminder of our racist past and we can’t let that define the Virginia of today or the Virginia of tomorrow,” AG Herring said.
Herring said that the removal of the Lee monument is an essential step and will allow the state to tell its full story and tell it truthfully.
Over the past year, Virginia has removed various other public Confederate symbols. The City of Richmond, which served as the capital of the Confederacy for most of the Civil War, has removed all but one Confederate statue.
During the briefing, Herring was joined by Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Chair Del. Lamont Bagby and Virginia State Conference NAACP President Robert Barnette, Jr.
Del. Lamont Bagby echoed Herring’s remarks saying that it’s been a long time coming. Del. Bagby said he had started his holiday weekend today when the news took him by surprise.
“When I got the news it was excited,” Del. Bagby said. “It was long overdue. You know, I commend the city for what they did last summer in relation to them taking down monuments. Wherever I go people want to talk about it and how it has impacted them.”
Virginia State Conference NAACP President Robert Barnette, Jr. said the statue is “a symbol of hate and white supremacy.”
“No other country in the world decorates its war losers more than the United States and so we are just proud to make sure this is not done on public property,” Barnette said.
AG Herring said he hopes the plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the removal of the Lee statue see the power in the decision and not delay it further.
“I don’t think there is any legal basis for further appeal to the US Supreme Court but if they try we will be there to oppose it,” Herring said. “This statue is coming down.”