Lee statue

DAILY PROGRESS FILE

The statue of Robert E. Lee is one of two memorials to Confederate generals in downtown Charlottesville.

The city of Charlottesville plans to appeal its defeat in a lawsuit challenging the City Council’s decision to remove two downtown Confederate monuments.

At the end of its meeting late Monday night, the council authorized the City Attorney’s Office to appeal the lawsuit once a final ruling comes down.

The lawsuit has sat idle in Charlottesville Circuit Court since mid-September, but a hearing is scheduled for next week.

The case started in 2017 after the council voted to remove a downtown statue of Robert E. Lee and then later added the statue of fellow Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

A group of area residents filed a lawsuit in March 2017 claiming that the vote violated state code.

By Jan. 1, none of the five councilors who made the vote will be in office. The city also has since lost at least a baker’s dozen of high-ranking officials including its city attorney, police chief and city manager.

Judge Richard Moore ruled last month that the monuments do not send a racially discriminatory message and issued a permanent injunction preventing their removal.

City attorneys were arguing that the state code section prohibiting their removal violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by sending a racist message to residents of color in Charlottesville.

The plaintiffs are seeking more than $600,000 in attorneys’ fees and Moore is considering the request. It is the only outstanding issue in the case.

A hearing in the suit is scheduled for Oct. 15.

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