RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A lawsuit filed by a group of Monument Avenue residents seeking to block the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue was dropped ahead of a hearing scheduled for Thursday, the second time they have voluntarily withdrawn their suit before going to court.
The plaintiffs in the suit, longtime Monument Avenue property owner Helen Marie Taylor and five others who wished to remain anonymous, cited concerns that taking it down could end “favorable tax treatment” and reduce property values.
The office of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that the hearing had been canceled less than two hours before it was set to begin.
“The plaintiffs dropped their original suit a couple weeks ago when it was removed to federal court and now they have dropped it again,” Charlotte Gomer, a spokeswoman for Herring, wrote in an email.
The lawsuit, filed in Richmond Circuit Court, claimed Gov. Ralph Northam’s order violates the state’s constitution and a legislative resolution adopted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1889.
“Attempts by Defendants to remove the Lee statue would damage, destroy or significantly alter the statue in violation of the terms of the deed conveying the statue, the 1889 legislative provision, and the laws of the Commonwealth,” the lawsuit stated.
Another lawsuit challenging Northam’s order to take down the statue is ongoing, with a hearing expected to take place on July 23. The date of the hearing could change as the judge in that case recused himself Thursday, citing the location of his home.