The Life and Death of Confederate Monuments

89 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2020 Last revised: 4 Jan 2021

See all articles by Jessica Owley

Jessica Owley

University of Miami - School of Law

Jess R. Phelps

The Lyme Timber Company LP

Date Written: September 24, 2020


Confederate monuments have again received increased attention in the aftermath of George Floyd’s tragic death in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020. Momentum, and shifting public opinion, seem to be assisting advocates for the removal of these problematic monuments across the country. This Article seeks to provide insight for monument removal advocates, specifically focusing on the legal issues associated with the “death” or removal of these monuments, how property law shapes and defines these efforts, and briefly examines what happens to these statues after removal. Our exploration of monuments reveals that many removal efforts are happening outside of the legally created processes. Both public and private entities are choosing to remove even in the face of legal barriers, which either bar or slow down removal. This mismatch between law and action (particularly by public actors) should lead communities to potentially question the laws designed to keep monuments in place and whose voices should be heard during these discussions. We further argue that communities need to seriously consider their obligations with regard to this monumental legacy and ensure that their removal strategy effectively addresses the root issues and does not just simply relocate the issue to another public forum or community.

Suggested Citation

Owley, Jessica and Phelps, Jess R., The Life and Death of Confederate Monuments (September 24, 2020). 68 Buff. L. Rev. 1393, Available at SSRN: or

Jessica Owley (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

Jess R. Phelps

The Lyme Timber Company LP ( email )

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