In a recent development, a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump has temporarily halted the removal proceedings for the Confederate memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. This decision came after Arlington filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the removal process.
According to reports, work had already begun to remove the bronze elements of the memorial based on recommendations from the Congressionally mandated Naming Commission’s final report that alleged the removal of any symbols honoring the Confederacy from Department of Defense assets.
A hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the matter further. However, the memorial has not been dismantled yet. A spokesperson for the cemetery confirmed that the Army had started disassembling the monument but ceased the work after the court issued the temporary restraining order.
Earlier, the Arlington Cemetery spokesperson had mentioned that safety fencing had been installed around the memorial, and the deconstruction process was underway. The Army had anticipated the removal process to take around four days.
This legal battle started when the advocacy group Defend Arlington sued the Army and the Department of Defense in February to halt the removal. A district judge dismissed the previous lawsuit on December 12.
The cemetery claims that removing the memorial is a requirement set by Congress and that they will follow environmental regulations while ensuring that the Confederate graves surrounding the monument remain undisturbed. However, Defend Arlington argues that the Army unlawfully bypassed specific regulations during the removal process.
The U.S. District Judge who issued the restraining order has requested both parties to be prepared to discuss the previously dismissed case during the court date. This discussion may influence the judge’s decision to extend the restraining order beyond Wednesday.
The new lawsuit brings forward concrete evidence that the removal efforts are disturbing the graves, according to David McCallister, a spokesperson for the advocacy group Save Southern Heritage Florida.
The Confederate memorial at Arlington National Cemetery has been a subject of controversy. While some argue that it represents a symbol of reconciliation, others believe it perpetuates a sanitized and mythologized version of the Confederacy, including depictions of slavery.
The Naming Commission, mandated by Congress and established in 2021, has been actively identifying and eliminating names, bases, and other Department of Defense assets that commemorate the Confederate States of America. In their conclusive report, they proposed the removal of the bronze upper section of the memorial while preserving the granite base to prevent any disturbance to the graves. As the legal battle unfolds, the fate of the Confederate memorial at Arlington National Cemetery remains uncertain.