RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The ACLU of Virginia has called on the Department of General Services to take down the fences surrounding the Robert E. Lee Monument. The organization calls the fences an infringement on First Amendment rights.
In a letter to DGS director Joe Damico, the ACLU claims that the monument will not be removed any time soon. A legal battle is ongoing as Gov. Ralph Northam attempts to have the statue removed and residents try to appeal the decision. The letter recognizes the possibility that this appeal could move from the Supreme Court of Virginia to the United States Supreme Court.
The organization calls the monument and the area around it a “traditional public forum” which is protected under the First Amendment. Examples of a public forum include streets, sidewalks and parks. The 4th Circuit court says these spaces have “a purpose that is compatible with expressive conduct.”
The letter ultimately calls for the reopening of the space for use as a forum for expression until the removal of the monument is scheduled for a more immediate date.