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February 16, 2021

The ACLU of Virginia sent the Director of the Department of General Services Joe Damico a letter urging the removal of fencing around the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond. 

"The ACLU of Virginia has significant concerns that the fencing erected around the Lee Monument grounds is unnecessarily infringing on the public’s First Amendment rights while these legal battles play out in the courtroom. The Lee Monument is a traditional public forum and access is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 4th Circuit has stated, 'Traditional public forums—such as streets, sidewalks, and parks—have the characteristics of a public thoroughfare, a purpose that is compatible with expressive conduct, as well as a tradition and history of being used for expressive public conduct.'"

In its current state, the Lee Monument stands unaccessible to the public and incapable of serving as a public forum. What was once a place for gatherings, demonstrations and mutual aid sits fenced off, awaiting a removal that has yet to be scheduled. 

The ACLU of Virginia asked that the fencing be removed immediately so that the space can once again function as a protected forum for expression until the removal of the monument is imminent. 

You can read the letter here: