Virginia AG backs Gov. Northam's decision to remove Confederate monument

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June 11 (UPI) -- Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said he intends to defend Gov. Ralph Northam's decision to remove a Confederate statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Richmond monument.

In an excerpt of his ruling posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday, Herring said Northam has "both the authority and moral obligation to remove this badge of white supremacy from its place of exaltation," describing the piece of state property as a daily reminder of "one of the darkest periods in our commonwealth's and nation's history."

"Attorney General Mark R. Herring intends to defend the governor's decision and ensure the removal of this divisive relic," the ruling read.

NEWS I have notified the court in the Lee statue case that I will defend the Governor's decision and work to ensure the removal of this divisive relic. @GovernorVA has both the authority and moral obligation to remove this badge of white supremacy. pic.twitter.com/Arhk4MSCEn— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) June 10, 2020

The ruling was filed two days after a Richmond judge awarded a temporary, 10-day injunction against the removal of the statue.

A descendent of the family that donated the Lee statue for the monument in 1890 filed the lawsuit seeking the injunction while an earlier case filed against the statue's removal on landmark protection claims is considered.

Last week, Northam announced he would use power's under Virginia code to remove the statue and other Confederate icons in the state capitol amid nationwide protests against racial inequality following the police-involved death of George Floyd who was pinned to the ground by the knee of a white police officer for more than eight minutes.

The protests have renewed calls for Confederate statues, flags and other imagery to be removed from public spaces.

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker and a California lawmaker, sent a letter to the Joint Committee on the Library on Wednesday requesting 11 statues of Confederate soldiers and officials be removed from the National Statuary Hall Collection as they "pay homage to hate."

NASCAR on Wednesday also announced it has banned Confederate flags at all its events, and a day earlier Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday said he directed staff to remove such flags from Navy installations, ships, aircraft and submarines and that he is willing to consider rechristening bases that don the names of Confederate leaders, a move that President Donald Trump said he would not allow.

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