A federal judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order to halt the taking down of a Confederate memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
A cemetery spokesperson told Fox News that the U.S. Army had begun disassembling the monument but halted operations.
The restraining will expire Wednesday night. A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. EST to decide whether or not the judge’s order will remain in place.
The order, issued by Judge Rossie Alston, a Trump appointee, blocks “any acts to deconstruct, tear down, remove, or alter the object of this case.”
In a footnote, Alston wrote that he “takes very seriously the representations of officers of the Court and should the representations in this case be untrue or exaggerated the Court may take appropriate sanctions.”
The restraining order was requested by a group called Defend Arlington. The group, which is affiliated with the organization Save Southern Heritage Florida, sued the Department of Defense on Sunday over its decision to remove the memorial.
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“The removal will desecrate, damage, and likely destroy the Memorial longstanding at ANC as a grave marker and impede the Memorial’s eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places,” the lawsuit accuses.
Arlington National Cemetery has said previously it would not remove the base of the monument to avoid any damage.
“The Army began disassembly of the monument atop the Confederate Memorial prior to the court issuing the temporary restraining order,” an Arlington National Cemetery spokesperson said. “The Army is complying with the restraining order and has ceased the work begun this morning.”
Last week, a federal judge in the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block the removal of the memorial filed by the same plaintiffs.
The statue, unveiled in 1914, features a bronze woman, crowned with olive leaves, standing on a 32-foot pedestal, and was designed to represent the American South. According to Arlington, the woman holds a laurel wreath, a plow stock, and a pruning hook, with a biblical inscription at her feet that says: “They have beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
Some of the figures on the statue also include a Black woman depicted as “Mammy” holding what is said to be the child of a white officer, and an enslaved man following his owner to war.
Last year, an independent commission recommended the memorial be taken down as part of a report to Congress on renaming of military bases and assets that commemorate the Confederacy.
More than 40 House Republicans wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently, arguing that the commission overstepped its authority when it recommended that the monument be removed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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