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Lee statue trial postponed for second time

A trial to decide the fate of Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee statue has been postponed for a second time, leaving the statue in storage at an undisclosed location and plans for it in limbo – at least until the new trial date on April 25.

The trial, originally scheduled for Feb. 1, was first delayed because the city’s attorney, Richard Milnor, became ill. The trial was rescheduled for Thursday.

Illness has again been blamed for a second delay.

People close to the case trace the latest postponement to a severe illness in the family of an attorney and assert that all parties agreed to the delay.

Word of the postponement came at about 9 p.m. on Tuesday in an email from a spokeswoman for the group that was given the statue in 2021.

“We are sorry for this inconvenience, but it was out of our control,” said the email from Lisa Draine of the Swords Into Plowshares project.

Swords Into Plowshares is the name of the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center’s project to melt down the statue of the Confederate general into ingots that would then be fashioned into a new work of community art.

City Council voted Dec. 7, 2021, to give the statue to the Jefferson School, which has since sought community input on design ideas for the new piece of art.

Two would-be bidders on the statue, the Trevillian Station Battlefield Foundation of Louisa County and the Ratcliffe Foundation of Tazewell County, have since sued to stop the statue destroyed.

They have argued that the gift to the Jefferson School was illegal and that the city’s bidding process violated state law and local policy. They have said they want the statue to go back up for bid.

The divisive statue was removed from its downtown location on July 10, 2021, after several years of debate about the appropriateness of a monument of the leader of the army that rebelled against the U.S. That debate evolved into a full-scale riot in Charlottesville, when neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and assorted other white nationalist groups who opposed calls for the statue’s removal descended on the city’s downtown on Aug. 12, 2017.

Counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed in that riot by white nationalist James Fields.


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