Confederate statue that prompted Charlottesville rally must stay, judge rules

A Virginia judge has blocked the city of Charlottesville's effort to remove the Confederate statue that sparked a deadly white nationalist rally in 2017.

Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore ruled that any attempts to remove the Robert E. Lee statue violate a state law protecting war memorials, the Daily Progress reported. The decision last week ends a lawsuit filed in March 2017 opposing the Charlottesville City Council vote to remove statue on the grounds that it sends a racist message.

The planned removal ostensibly prompted the Unite the Rally at which a neo-Nazi drove a car into counter protesters, killing Heather Heyer.

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Moore issued a permanent injunction, the Progress reported, preventing future removal. His ruling also applied to a statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, also located in downtown Charlottesville.

Siding with the plaintiffs and against the city, Moore said the state law protecting war memorials does not have discriminatory intent.

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"I don't think I can infer that a historical preservation statute was intended to be racist," he said. "Certainly, (racism) was on their minds, but we should not judge the current law by that intent."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Charlottesville Confederate statue removal blocked by judge