Charlottesville's Lee Statue Vandalized Again as Lawsuit Continues
The state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in downtown Charlottesville has once again been vandalized with red paint.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville police are investigating vandalism of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
It appears someone painted "FREDOM" or "FREOOM" onto the base of the controversial statue in Market Street Park. The misspelled word was discovered early Tuesday, February 19. The statue was tagged with graffiti that said "Native Land," and covered in some red paint back in July 2017.
The vandalism came the same day of a settlement conference between groups of people and organizations suing Charlottesville and members of City Council - Mike Signer, Kathy Galvin, Wes Bellamy, Kristin Szakos, and Bob Fenwick - over an attempt to remove the statues of Lee and General Thomas Johnathan "Stonewall" Jackson. The lawsuit was first filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court back on March 20, 2017, and has undergone amendments and many motions hearings.
Lawyers tell NBC29 that they were unable to resolve their issues during Tuesday’s conference, which was moderated by Judge Daniel Bouton.
“We have no change in status to report,” said a spokesperson for Charlottesville.
“The parties acted in good faith, but were unable to reach an agreement,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Charles L. Weber, Jr. in a statement. “The negotiations remain confidential; thus, we have no further comment.”
Judge Richard Moore, who is overseeing the main part of the case, ordered the judicial settlement conference as a standard procedure in civil actions.
Plaintiffs argue the listed councilors acted beyond their authority and violated a Virginia law that prohibits the removal of monuments or memorials to war veterans. The defendants believe the statues are not war memorials, partially due to neither statue specifically naming the Civil War.
A trial date has yet to be set in this lawsuit, though lawyers for some of the defendants want a jury trial. Another hearing is set for March.
The Charlottesville Police Department is investigating the vandalism.
"Regardless of what your stance is on the statues, vandalism is a crime,” said Sgt. Tony Newberry, Charlottesville Police Department. “There are plenty of ways to express what your opinions are without breaking any laws."
Police plan to review footage from cameras in the area to hopefully identify a possible suspect.