RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia ruled Thursday that the state can take down an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that has towered over a traffic island in Richmond for more than a century and has become a symbol of racial injustice.

The high court’s ruling came in two lawsuits filed by residents who attempted to block the statue’s removal.

Northam announced his decision to remove it in June 2020, 10 days after George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer sparked protests over police brutality and racism in cities across the country, including Richmond. The nationally recognized statue became the epicenter of a protest movement in Virginia after Floyd’s death and its base is now covered with graffiti.

Separate lawsuits were filed by a group of residents who own property near the statue and a descendant of signatories to a 1890 deed that transferred the statue, pedestal and land they sit on to the state.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Ralph Northam said his office would have comment soon.

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