By SARAH RANKIN Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Richmond’s massive statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee will stay in place in the former capital of the Confederacy at least a while longer while a lawsuit over the governor’s plans to remove it plays out.

A judge on Tuesday issued a ruling that favors Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who announced plans to take down the behemoth in June after the death of George Floyd. But the judge suspended his order pending the resolution of an appeal.

The lawsuit was brought by a group of Richmond residents who live near the statue. Reached by phone, one of their attorneys, Patrick McSweeney, said he had already spoken with his clients, and they would appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Floyd’s death sparked a renewed wave of Confederate monument removals across the U.S., as did a violent 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and a mass shooting at a historic African American church in South Carolina.

Critics of the statues say they distastefully glorify people who fought to preserve slavery in the South. Others say their removal amounts to erasing history.

Four other prominent statues of Confederate leaders have been taken down from city property along the avenue since Northam announced plans to remove Lee.

The Lee statue, which sits on a state-owned parcel of land along Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue, was unveiled before a massive crowd in May 1890, at a time when the Civil War and Reconstruction were over and Jim Crow racial segregation laws were on the rise.

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