Legal concerns over if city council can remove Confederate monuments

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.(NEWSPLEX) -- The controversy over Confederate memorials is still brewing in Charlottesville. This after city councilman Bob Fenwick made the announcement that he will vote to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from Lee Park.

There are some concerns on whether or not the city council has the legal rights to do so.

It's not clear if the city will be able to move the monument. There are laws in Virginia that protect war memorials, but what's going to have to be determined in court is whether or not the current law applies to the monuments that were built before the law was passed.

In 1998 Virginia lawmakers denied local governments from removing or damaging war monuments, but some would argue that the protection was only for monuments erected after the law went into effect.

The Robert E. Lee statue was built in 1924. Legal Analyst Scott Goodman says this might turn out to be more than just the state trying to enforce a state law.

"But also there's going to be private lawsuits," said Goodman. "The heirs of Mr. McIntire, who donated the land and donated the statues for a trust to be able to be kept in perpetuity. People can sue who are affected in that way, family members and so forth, to enforce the trust, to enforce the original agreement that brought the statues to that park to begin with."

It's going to be left to the courts to figure out if what the city council has voted on can actually be done. Fenwick plans to vote to remove the statue at the city council meeting on Feb. 6.

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