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Virginia high court hears challenges to Lee statue removal

Some people would like the statue taken down because they see it as a symbol of white supremacy, and Black oppression.
Credit: AP
EDS NOTE: OBSCENITY - FILE - In this Friday, July 10, 2020, file photo is the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. The Supreme Court of Virginia is set to hear arguments Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in legal challenges to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's plan to take down the 131-year-old statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

RICHMOND, Va. — The Supreme Court of Virginia has heard arguments on whether the state has the right to take down a 131-year-old statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the state capital.

The court is considering two lawsuits that challenge Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to remove the enormous bronze equestrian statue of Lee from a traffic circle on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. 

The once-celebrated monument is now widely seen as a symbol of white supremacy and Black oppression.

The central issue to be decided by the Supreme Court is whether the state is legally bound by a state decision in 1889 to accept ownership of the statue and agree to “affectionately protect” it as a monument to Lee.