In Arlington National Cemetery, efforts to dismantle a Confederate memorial were temporarily suspended by a federal court injunction on Monday. The directive, issued by Judge Rossie Alston, puts a pause on any activity to modify or remove the memorial in question until a scheduled hearing on Wednesday evening.
The order explicitly states that the cemetery is to refrain from any actions that would alter the monument. The temporary halt was a response to a lawsuit filed by Defend Arlington, a group linked to Save Southern Heritage Florida, against the Department of Defense. The group’s legal action argues that the removal of the memorial would not only desecrate the site but could also potentially jeopardize its status on the National Register of Historic Places.
A representative from Arlington National Cemetery confirmed that initial steps to dismantle the memorial’s upper structure were underway when the order was received. As a result, the work that began in the morning has been stopped in compliance with the court’s directive.
This legal struggle follows a recent dismissal of a similar lawsuit by another federal judge in the District of Columbia, filed by the same plaintiffs aiming to prevent the memorial’s removal. The memorial, which was established in 1914, is adorned with a bronze figure symbolizing the South, complete with a wreath of laurels. Controversially, the statue also includes depictions that have been criticized for their representation of racial stereotypes from the Civil War era.
The discussion around the memorial intensified following a report to Congress last year, which included the recommendation for the monument’s removal by an independent commission tasked with the renaming of military assets named after Confederate figures. Subsequently, over 40 Republican members of the House approached Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, suggesting that the commission exceeded its mandate with this recommendation. The upcoming hearing will determine the future of the memorial and whether it will remain a part of the historical landscape at Arlington National Cemetery.