BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two months after the Talbot County Council voted to remove the “Talbot Boys” statue, a group formed in response to the Move the Monument coalition has struck back with a lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed by Preserve Talbot History (PTH) challenges the county council’s decision to remove the statue and contends that it would be illegal to relocate the monument somewhere out of state.

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The Talbot Boys statue, which depicts a Confederate soldier staring off into the distance, has stood in Talbot County for the last 107 years. It has become a source of controversy in recent months.

In May, the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit calling for the statue’s removal. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has also voiced his support for its removal, saying it’s a “sign of enduring resistance to racial equality.”

The county’s current plan is to move the statue to the Cross Keys Battlefield, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Yet PTH is calling for a reversal of the council’s decision, saying the board did not seek the public’s input on the matter before reaching a decision. The group says it should be up to the public to decide what happens to the statue.

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“Citizens, not the politicians, should decide the fate of the monument,” said David Montgomery, the group’s president. “We believe that the question should be put to referendum for the voters to decide. The statue should remain right where it has been for over one hundred years so present and future citizens can learn of their history and heritage. We oppose the efforts by the woke cancel culture crowd to erase our history. ”

Montgomery also singled out Talbot County Councilman Frank Divilio, claiming Divilio effectively excluded the public from the decision-making process and was not forthright about what would become of the statue.

“When the council meeting took place,” Montgomery said, “Mr. Frank Divilio misrepresented the fact that the monument would be going to a location in Virginia if the council voted in favor of the administrative resolution. It was not true then, and it is not true now.”

Divilio previously defended the lack of public input in a Sept. 15 Facebook post, saying the council was well informed about the community’s feelings toward the statue.

“I believe in transparency and public engagement in local government,” Divilio said at the time. “And while I understand the frustration of many who would have liked a public comment period on this resolution, I believe that the Council is well-versed in how the community feels about the Talbot Boys after 18 months of hearings, protests, yard signs, calls, letters, demonstrations, news stories, blog posts and text messages. We will do more harm than good by delaying this decision any longer.”

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WJZ has reached out to Talbot County officials for comment on the lawsuit. This story will be updated with their response.

CBS Baltimore Staff