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Judge Who Blocked Removal of Richmond Monuments Authored an Anti-Desegregation Op-Ed in 1977

An op-ed by Judge Bradley Cavedo, who temporarily halted the removal of Confederate statues in Richmond, has resurfaced. In it, he criticized desegregation busing, welfare measures, and a proposal for instant voter registration.

A statue of General Robert E. Lee in Richmond (photo by Mobilus In Mobili via Flickr)

An op-ed penned four decades ago by Bradley Cavedo, the Richmond Circuit Court judge who approved a temporary injunction blocking the removal of Confederate monuments in the city last week, has provoked backlash for its criticism of a desegregation policy.

In 1977, Cavedo authored an opinion piece titled “What Does US Life Offer Me?” for The Collegian, the University of Richmond’s newspaper. In it, he expresses his desire to leave the country after graduation — Cavedo was then an undergraduate student at the university and in charge of the paper’s editorial section — citing, among other reasons, de-segregation busing.

Busing, a practice of transporting students to schools within or outside their school districts in order to reduce racial segregation, “caused more upheaval in my life the most people could imagine,” Bradley wrote in the essay. 

A week after Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney expedited the removal of Confederate monuments in the midst of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, invoking risks of injury and coronavirus infection for protesters attempting to topple them, Judge Cavedo approved a temporary injunction blocking the mayor’s order. In the courtroom last Tuesday, Cavedo referred to Confederate General A.P. Hill, whose statue still stands in Richmond, as an “American war veteran.” He also accused Stoney of mishandling the recent demonstrations and failing to enforce “law and order” over the “rioters.”

In a tweet last week, Delegate Lamont Bagby, who chairs Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus, called the op-ed “highly problematic.” “Who is this guy?” Bagby asks.

In the op-ed, Cavedo also censures then-President Jimmy Carter’s proposal for instant voter registration, declaring that it would “allow the parasites of this nation to become the dominating force in politics,” as well as welfare policies implemented under his administration.

“If I were to make a large sum of money the government would take it in taxes. If I were to sit around and be a bum, I could rest assured that the government would come to the rescue, providing me with what Is the equivalent of more than $10,000 in welfare, food stamps, etc. What is the sense in it? Where is the challenge? If I decide to sit on my tail and not earn a living then I should be allowed to starve,” Cavedo wrote.

In addition to overseeing the lawsuit brought on by an anonymous plaintiff against Stoney and blocking the mayor’s emergency order for the removal of Confederate statues, Cavedo is also presiding over another high-profile lawsuit involving a statue of General Robert E. Lee in Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam attempted to have the bronze removed, but Cavedo claimed it “belongs to the people,” since it sits on state property, and granted a request to block its removal brought by an alleged heir of the general.

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