RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A legal battle is halting momentum in the city’s efforts to take down the statue of Confederate General A.P. Hill, which currently sits at the intersection of West Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road.
The City of Richmond claimed ownership over the statue and planned to move it from its pedestal into the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.
Earlier this month, however, distant descendants of the Confederate general came forward to challenge this plan. While they didn’t oppose the statue’s removal, they believed they should have a say in where it ends up.
8News Legal Analyst Russ Stone explained why the A.P. Hill monument is more complicated than the others.
“The remains of A.P. Hill are actually buried under the statue,” Stone said. “So in addition to just being a statue we’re also talking about a grave.”
Family members did approve of the city’s plan for Hill’s remains to be moved to a cemetery in Culpeper.
However, the City of Richmond asserted there are no living direct descendants of Hill, which calls into question the validity of the petitioners’ requests, further complicating decisions made around the statue.
“They may not have legal standing because of the fact that they are not direct descendants of A.P. Hill,” Stone told 8News.
Even if a judge determined that a descendant’s relation to Hill was valid enough to warrant challenging the plan for moving the statue, there would still need to be a decision on whether the descendant has a vested interest in the location of the physical monument itself — and not just the remains inside.
“With the remains in there and if there are direct descendants of the remains, in other words, family members of A.P. Hill, it could be argued that that statue is almost like a grave marker,” Stone said.
According to Stone, this would mean that a judge would have to decide — even once the remains are removed from the monument — whether the vessel still could be labeled a “grave marker.”
City representatives and Hill’s alleged descendants did not respond to requests for comment at this time.