Patricia N. Saffran, Lee Statue in Purgatory Awaiting its Fate in Charlottesville

 Patricia N. Saffran

The Charlottesville VA court case of December 2021, deciding the fate of the valuable 1924 Shrady/Lentelli Robert E Lee Equestrian monument has been postponed. At present, the bronze statue is sitting in storage in a secret location in an unknown number of pieces. The Plaintiffs, the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation and the Ratcliffe Foundation, say cutting up and melting down the the statue was illegal. They want the City to recomplete and restore the statue, or find alternative uses for the bronze such as turning the pieces into a canon for the battlefield if it can no longer be reassembled. Apparently, in a video meeting, the Charlottesville City Council decided to give the statue to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center to melt down, which was possibly undemocratic and not legally binding.



A person connected with the Monument Fund, which has been providing litigation support, explains, “The trial was postponed April 20, 2023, until after the Virginia Supreme Court clarifies out its very recent ruling in another case, called the Berry decision, which has a bearing on part of this case. In summary, Berry ruled that everything every Virginia locality did in 2021, if they met in virtual session rather than in person, was invalid. The Open Government law required them to meet in person. Charlottesville City Council met by video, not in person, when it voted in 2021 to give the Lee monument to the Jefferson School African American Center to be melted down. We asked the Judge to revisit his previous ruling that dismissed FOIA, and he did, so that is back in the case. But the consequence of it coming back in the case is he gave the Defendants a continuance so they can prepare to respond. We don’t know when the Supreme Court will rule, so we don’t know when the trial will be rescheduled.”


It should be noted that the Jefferson School has deep pockets to fight this case. Major donors to the $1 million Lee statue meltdown project, called “Swords to Plowshares,” include George Soros, Elizabeth Breeden, and City taxpayer money, which alone nearly totals $1 million.While Andrea Douglas, executive director of the Jefferson School, characterized the goal of the project to turn the “Lee” bronze ingots into a new sculpture for healing the community, the price tag is far greater than a newly commissioned bronze.


Another current Virginia court case involves the Confederate Monument, from 1876-1881 designed by architect Charles E, Cassell, which was partially forcibly pulled down in Portsmouth, June 10, 2020. There Police Chief Angela Greene charged those involved, a total of 19 individuals, including State Senator Louise Lucas, with two felony charges, a conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000. Portsmouth’s monument was damaged during the protest which saw Chris Green, a protestor who was a standing near the monument, seriously injured and hospitalized when part of a statue was pulled down on his head.



The monument was erected for “the Confederate dead of Portsmouth and Norfolk County,” by the Ladies Memorial Aid Association, founded in 1866. It had already been scheduled to be moved legally to the nearby Cedar Grove Cemetery but that didn’t satisfy Senator Lucas and several local NAACP officers. They went ahead with the protest and risky takedown. The protestors violently decapitated some of the white bronze alloy Confederate soldiers with a sledgehammer as well as pulling one down. The protestors damaged the monument so much so that a decision was made by the City Council to remove the remaining obelisk and generic figures, which are now in storage in an undisclosed location.


Charges were later dismissed by an activist Richmond judge, November 16, 2020. One week later, Senator Lucas’s daughter, the Portsmouth Vice-Mayor and City Council member, Lisa Lucas-Burke, was charged with misdemeanors by a local resident for demanding Chief Greene be fired. Her actions were apparently contrary to the town code where an elected official cannot call for removal of the police chief. Lucas-Burke’s activism had an effect. Police Chief Angela Greene was soon after terminated. She is currently police chief in Lexington, VA.  Chief Greene said on the phone, December 2, 2022 “I can’t speak about the case because it’s being appealed.” Previously, Chief Greene described that she was merely following her oath of office to uphold VA law.



Chief Greene’s lawyer, Thomas K. Plofchan, Jr. recently explained, “Chief Greene filed a wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit in relation to her termination. The trial court dismissed the cases without providing reasoning. This has been appealed to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Briefs have been filed and the parties are awaiting scheduling of oral argument.”


Both the Charlottesville and Portsmouth court cases feature politicians and bureaucrats following their own agendas. In Portsmouth, they also had little regard for public safety. Given the unpredictable Virginia courts, it will be interesting to see their decisions.


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2 thoughts on “Patricia N. Saffran, Lee Statue in Purgatory Awaiting its Fate in Charlottesville”

  1. Pingback: Patricia N. Saffran, Sherman Monument Ambushed on Fifth Avenue, Central Park  - James H. Fetzer
  2. This is such BS, it boggles the mind. IF the Lee statue bothers them, why not remove the UVA Rotunda and Monticello since all that is via Thomas Jefferson who was a slave owner. I lived in Charlottesville for almost twenty years and had several businesses. Having left in ’98 to care for my mother, I returned in 2017. The entire “pysche” had changed from what was once a wonderful “college town” with character and characters to a high tech yuppie hell hole that had priced out long time residents and driven property prices and taxes though the roof. The corridor known as West Main Street between UVA and the downtown mall was known strewn with empty town homes the average Charlottesvillian could not touch. The downtown pedestrian mall had over 75 restaurants now and all those restaurants that had been there from the beginning were going under. A town the size of Charlottesville just could not support that number of eating establishments. Places like the Court Square Tavern and Tastings (a wine store) both owned by a friend, Bill Curtis, were going under. I had created the first real coffeehouse back in the 70’s (the Roasted Bean) and now there are about 50 around town.

    Robert E Lee statue 2017:



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