City sues to remove Confederate monument, citing free speech
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s second largest city is suing the state in an attempt to remove an 80-foot (24-meter) Confederate monument from its downtown.
The city of Norfolk’s suit was filed Monday in federal court and targets a Virginia law that prevents the removal of war memorials.
The suit claims the city’s free speech rights are being violated because it’s being forced to project a message it no longer supports. The 1907 monument was erected at a time when the South was being romanticized and slavery was de-emphasized.
Council members voted in 2017 to move the monument to a cemetery.
University of Virginia law professor Richard Schragger said Norfolk is employing a relatively novel and untested legal strategy in federal court. The main legal question is whether cities have free speech rights.