On Tuesday, Judge Richard E. Moore of Charlottesville Circuit Court ruled that two Confederate statues must be uncovered from the tarps they’d been hidden under for the last six months.
The statues in question, of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, were shrouded shortly after a rally of hundreds of white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12 turned violent, resulting in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer. The Lee statue had been at the center of a debate over the potential removal of Confederate monuments that in part prompted the rally in the first place.
In his ruling, Judge Moore bemoaned what he described as the lost opportunity to view the monuments suffered by historians and tourists: “Their lost opportunity cannot be undone.” Of the historical events that unfolded in the city six months ago, he wrote, “It’s not a matter of the ‘mourning’ having gone on too long.” Moore specifically rejected the city’s argument that the statues should remain covered at least until the first anniversary of Heyer’s death.
Here’s an even fuller, more explicit quote from Moore’s ruling, per the New York Times: “The harm to defendants from removing the tarps and not being able to shield them until the matter goes to trial is outweighed by the harm to plaintiffs and the general public in not being able to view or enjoy them.”
Soon after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, the local city council also voted to remove the Jackson statue (it had already voted to tear down Lee’s likeness), but Moore blocked the removal with an injunction, saying the statues must stay where they are, unaltered, until pending litigation submitted by Confederate heritage preservationists is sorted out.
The city now reportedly has 15 days to reveal the statues once more.