VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The lawyer for Virginia’s largest city says a Confederate monument outside an old courthouse cannot be moved.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Monday that Virginia Beach’s attorney has given his interpretation of a state law aimed at protecting war memorials. Such laws have spawned an ongoing debate across Virginia over local power to remove Confederate statues and memorials.

Virginia Beach city attorney Mark Stiles says a 1904 law bars war memorials in counties from being disturbed. He said that applies to Virginia Beach because the city originated as a county.

Stiles said his interpretation fits with court opinions on the matter and as well as those of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. In an opinion issued last month, Herring said state law allows cities to move war memorials.

Information from: The Virginian-Pilot,

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