7/16/2020, 6 p.m.
Events and new information arising during the past few days give us grave concerns about the continued involvement of Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley B. Cavedo in the legal cases regarding the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue.
Judge Cavedo has issued an indefinite injunction barring Gov. Ralph S. Northam from removing the state-owned statute of Confederate Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue.
He also, in a separate case, has issued a 60-day injunction barring Mayor Levar M. Stoney and the City of Richmond from removing any more Confederate statues. That order was issued late last week, after work crews had removed the last of the city-owned statues on Monument Avenue and others in Monroe Park and on Libby Hill. At least one city-owned Confederate statue remains standing and is impacted by Judge Cavedo’s order.
We believe that Judge Cavedo should never have heard these cases for several reasons. He lives in the Monument Avenue Historic District where the Lee statue stands and where many of the city-owned statues stood before being taken down. We believe that’s a conflict and should preclude him from hearing any of these cases because he potentially stands to financially benefit – or lose – in property value and tax treatment with the statues gone.
Also, Judge Cavedo’s comments from the bench show that he has too much of an emotional investment or attachment to the statues and cannot render an impartial decision. He has called protesters “rioters” and a Confederate an “American war veteran,” and criticized Mayor Stoney for his handling of the early protests that resulted in Richmond having three different police chiefs over the course of a little more than two and a half weeks.
Judge Cavedo also has shown flagrant disregard for the public when it comes to these cases. He allowed a plaintiff seeking to block the statues’ removal to file anonymously, which, in our humble opinion, should not fly in a case with this much public interest. In this highly contentious and significant case that greatly impacts the residents of this city, the people — as well as the defendant, Mayor Levar M. Stoney — have a right to know who has filed the lawsuit to block the statues’ removal. For all we know, it could be Judge Cavedo or one of his family members. By allowing an anonymous filing, Judge Cavedo has given a cloak of protection to someone who may not even live in Virginia or have legal standing to bring the suit.
The judge also held two initial hearings in the Lee statue case without notice to the public, to the media or to Attorney General Mark R. Herring as the lawyer for the Commonwealth. The hearings also were held without a court reporter present, so there is no record of what was said and done, all issues that have been criticized by Mr. Herring in his efforts to defend Gov. Northam’s directive to remove the Lee statue.
Chillingly, an editorial Judge Cavedo wrote 43 years ago while an undergraduate student at the University of Richmond shows his disdain for Black people and many of our concerns.
In the editorial page column published in the April 14, 1977, edition of The Collegian newspaper, the longtime Richmond resident who attended Thomas Jefferson High School during the early years of school busing, complains about school desegregation and the “solicitous paternalism of the federal courts, which ... nearly wrecked my high school education by instituting a massive busing plan that caused more upheaval in my school and life than most people could imagine.”
He also criticizes then-President Jimmy Carter’s proposal to allow instant voter registration.
“This scheme will allow the parasites of this nation to become the dominating force in politics,” he wrote. He said they “soak billions from the government” and “do not bother to register in advance ... and usually do not vote.”
We know who he was talking about.
We have long held that neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan members and sympathizers may not be among those marching around the Lee statue carrying assault-style rifles and waving Confederate flags. Instead, they wear suits and robes and sit on our state and federal courts, hold CEO positions at our workplaces and run our schools, banks and criminal justice system, all making decisions that can have major negative consequences for the lives, livelihoods and opportunities for success for African-Americans and people of color.
Judge Cavedo’s college editorial has gone viral on social media, raising the concern of several members of the General Assembly, which elects our state’s judges.
While we acknowledge that a person’s perspective can change over 40 years, this person clearly hasn’t. Judge Cavedo’s words then, and his actions now, speak loudly and clearly to African-Americans, people of color and people of conscience. They also bring into question his own biases and whether anyone of color standing before him in court has received a fair and impartial hearing.
For the best interests of our future and his reputation, we urge him to step down from hearing any of the cases regarding Confederate statues.