Charlottesville asks judge to throw out Robert E. Lee statue lawsuit

Statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Park (Photo: City of Charlottesville)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WSET) -- The City of Charlottesville is asking a judge to throw out the lawsuit filed over the future of the Robert E. Lee statue.

The city is also asking for a judge to deny an injunction against Charlottesville.

Several city residents along with the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Monuments Fund Inc. sued the city, earlier this year after City Council voted to remove the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues.

The lawsuit claims Charlottesville is violating Virginia's monument protection law and violating the terms of Paul McIntire's gift when he gave the statue to the city in the 1920s

The city says the suit fails to show any violations and should be thrown out.

"We are alleging in our complaint that it is a war memorial that falls within the gambit of the statute," said Charles Weber, an attorney suing the city. "That is the crux of our complaint, so whatever legal arguments we have to make to support that we will make in court."

On Monday night, city council voted to sell the lee statue. It's the type of action attorneys suing the city hope to stop with the injunction. "Our goal is to freeze things in place while the lawsuit goes forward," said Weber.

The city said in court documents that the injunction should be denied but attorneys representing the city are being cautious about the statue.

City Attorney Craig Brown said in a statement:

"My advice to city council last night was that any agreement to sell, transfer or remove the Lee statue should be conditioned on receiving a favorable decision in the pending court case."

"It doesn't make any sense to expend any taxpayer money to move that statue or do anything to that statue while the lawsuit is pending," said Weber.

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