CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – One of the men involved in the lawsuit to keep statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Johnathan “Stonewall” Jackson in Charlottesville parks is now suing one of the city’s newspapers for defamation.
Edward Dickinson Tayloe II names C-ville Holdings / C-Ville Weekly, reporter Melissa “Lisa” Provence, and University of Virginia associate professor Jalane Schmidt as defendants in the lawsuit. He is seeking a total of $1.35 million, in addition to attorney’s fees and court costs.
Tayloe’s suit was filed in Albemarle Circuit Court Tuesday, May 28. He claims a profile piece written by Provence about plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the city defamed him. According to the lawsuit, “The profile damaged Plaintiff Tayloe’s personal and professional reputation by alleging, by implication and absent any factual support, that Plaintiff Tayloe opposed renaming Jackson and Lee Parks and removing their namesake monuments because he is a racist and an opponent of people of color.”
The lawsuit later argues, “Defendants either knew the statements they published regarding Plaintiff Tayloe and his alleged motivation for joining the Statue Litigation were false, or, believing them to be true, lacked reasonable grounds for such belief and/or acted negligently and/or recklessly in failing to ascertain the facts on which their statements relied, and therefore were negligent and/or reckless in publishing those statements of and concerning Plaintiff Tayloe.”
Former and current members of Charlottesville City Council had voted to remove the Lee and Jackson statues and rename the public parks back in 2017. Tayloe was one of several individuals and groups that filed a lawsuit arguing City Council acted beyond its authority.
Last month, a Charlottesville judge ruled that both statues are war memorials, which would protect them from removal, per state code. However, the two parks have since been renamed: Lee Park became Emancipation Park, then Market Street Park; Jackson Park was Justice Park, but is currently called Court Square Park.
Tayloe is seeking a trial by jury, and is being represented by Tremblay & Smith, PLLC.