RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A judge will rule next month on Richmond’s effort to remove the A.P. Hill statue, the last city-owned Confederate monument still standing, and donate it to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.
While other Confederate monuments in Richmond have been removed, the fate of A.P. Hill has been complicated because the general’s remains are buried beneath the statue. This requires the city to get a court order to remove the statue, an effort that has been challenged by Hill’s indirect descendants.
In court Thursday, attorneys for the city and descendants agreed that Richmond’s plan to move Hill’s remains to Fairview Cemetery in Culpeper should be allowed to move forward. Their dispute is over what to do with the statue.
Four “collateral descendants,” people with a common ancestor but who do not descend directly from Hill, say they want the statue to be transferred to Cedar Mountain Battlefield in Culpeper and not donated to the museum.
Their attorney argued that the statue is a public cemetery and grave marker, not a war memorial, giving the descendants authority to decide where it should be moved and not the city.
Robert Rolfe, an attorney with the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP representing the city, argued Richmond owns the monument because it has been solely responsible for maintaining the statue. He added that city officials have already approved plans for its removal and transfer to the museum.
The location of the statue, at the intersection of W. Laburnum Ave. and Hermitage Road, presents a traffic concern, the city argued in court. Robert Steidel, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer, called it a “very busy area” when testifying Thursday.
The indirect descendants would accept a plan to keep the remains and statue at Cedar Mountain Battlefield, a compromise their attorney said was offered to the city. But the city’s legal counsel didn’t indicate any support for such a deal.
Richmond Circuit Court Judge David Eugene Cheek Sr. did ask the descendants’ attorney whether a neutral location not associated with the Civil War would be acceptable, but he said he was “just asking.”
Judge Cheek said he would consider their arguments over the next 30 days and rule on the city’s petition seeking to transfer the remains to Fairview Cemetery and give the monument to the museum.