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Virginia attorney general interprets Confederate monument law

Mark Herring released an opinion Friday on limitations, past changes in law

ROANOKE, Va. – Virginia's attorney general commented Friday on the laws surrounding potentially removing or relocating Confederate monuments, as many cities and towns around the commonwealth consider what to do.

Mark Herring gave his interpretation of the law in an opinion. He says it would be possible for some towns to remove monuments but it has to be done on a case-by-case basis. He says the main questions are where it is, who built it, when it was put up and if local governments have passed other measures since then.

"As a general rule, localities can decide what they want to do with their property, but there are some state laws that may limit what they can do," Herring told WSLS 10 on Friday.

Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee statue remains in place as the court case over its removal continues.

"I think it’s really important. I think, communities all around the state, take this time to have a real, thoughtful and inclusive conversation about the future of monuments in their community," Herring said Friday. "I personally think that they should come down or be moved to a museum, but that’s a conversation that every community needs to have.”

Herring said earlier this month that he believes monuments should be relocated to museums or removed.

Here's more from Herring’s opinion:

“Careful investigation of the history and facts concerning a particular monument in a given locality should be completed to determine what, if any, restrictions might apply."

“The Code section does not apply to any monument or memorial constructed prior to 1904. The Circuit Court of Danville ruled in Heritage Preservation Association, Inc. v. City of Danville that it does not apply to any monument or memorial erected within an independent city prior to 1997. Nor does it apply to a monument or memorial erected on any property other than the "public square" at the county seat before the same year. Finally, the statute applies only to monuments or memorials for wars or conflicts or 'war veterans.'"

The full opinion can be found here.