The Virginia Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the state can remove a large statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the state’s capital of Richmond.
The court’s ruling agreed that covenants reaching to 1887 and 1890 are not sufficient to stop the removal of the controversial statue.
“Those restrictive covenants are unenforceable as contrary to public policy and for being unreasonable because their effect is to compel government speech, by forcing the Commonwealth to express, in perpetuity, a message with which it now disagrees,” the opinion stated.
The decision was made in October of last year. However, an appeal to the state’s Supreme Court kept the removal of the statue from moving forward.
“Today is an historic day in Virginia. Today, we turn the page to a new chapter in our Commonwealth’s history — one of growth, openness, healing, and hope,” state Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said in a statement, according to The Hill.
“As we continue our work to address systemic racism in our society, bringing this statue down will be an important step in the ongoing process of making Virginia a more open, welcoming, fair, and just place for everyone,” Herring continued.
Pressure to remove the statue increased in 2020 by activist groups following the death of George Floyd. The statue was also the location of a rally in 2017 where one person was killed.
The change will mark a peaceful, legal ruling to conclude the statue’s troubled recent history. Where the statue will soon reside is yet unknown.