Richmond Can Remove Last Confederate Statue, Judge Rules
The city of Richmond has filed a bill of complaint in federal court to remove a statue from the grounds of the governor’s mansion that celebrates Confederate soldiers who fought against the United States in the Civil War
“It is clear that Confederate Memorial Day is a part of the public square, a traditional part of the public expression of Richmond’s history, its culture, and its people. The monument is on public land, and a statue of a private benefactor should not be.”
The judge who heard the case, T. Travis Medlock, ruled that the city does not have the authority to remove the statue of a man who donated it to the city, but said the city could remove it from the grounds of the governor’s mansion. The decision, made last week, came one day after the city said it would appeal the U.S. District Court ruling.
Medlock, an appointee of President George W. Bush, wrote that the memorial had become “a symbol of the Confederacy… one of the more popular monuments in the city.” He said it “has become the centerpiece not only of the governor’s mansion grounds, but also the grounds of the United States Department of Justice and the Pentagon.”
The City Council in April approved paying $2 million to the Dillard family, who had commissioned the statue in 1916. The Dillard family was later renamed Richmond’s Confederate Monument Foundation by the city in 2005.
Under a court order, which the state approved, the city has removed all references to the Dillard monument in a historic district that includes the governor’s mansion.
The statue of a man in a top hat who holds a scepter has been on public display for about 20 years, with the city saying it was commissioned by Dillard and donated by him to the city. It is about 11 feet tall, weighs 300 pounds and is adorned with the Dillard name and the words “Rebel to the death” in large lettering.
In 2005, the U.