A Virginia state judge ruled on Wednesday that two Confederate statues in Charlottesville cannot be removed because it would be a violation of the state’s historical preservation law for war monuments, according to local media. The ruling comes more than two years after the city council voted to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which resulted in a lawsuit against the city and sparked a deadly white-nationalist rally. Circuit Judge Richard Moore denied that the Lee statue and another of Stonewall Jackson violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, rejecting an argument raised by city attorneys who said the monuments were racist.
“Statues do speak, if at all, about history…even history we don’t like,” Moore said to local news outlets. Eight plaintiffs are seeking $500 each in compensation for emotional damages they say were inflicted on them when the statues were covered up with black tarps for 188 days after the “Unite the Right” rally that left one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, dead. Outside the courthouse, a shouting match erupted between a small group, with two people holding a Confederate flag and another two holding a flag with the antifa logo on it, according to C-VILLE Weekly.