CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - A Virginia judge has ruled that Charlottesville's Confederate statues are war monuments protected by state law.

Judge Richard Moore's ruling came in a lawsuit filed against Charlottesville City Council members who voted in 2017 to remove a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Moore cited how statues of Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson depict the men in military uniforms and on horses associated with them during the Civil War. Virginia law makes it illegal for local municipalities to remove war monuments.

Moore said his ruling doesn't guarantee that the plaintiffs will win if the lawsuit goes to trial. His ruling was only on the issue of whether the statues are considered war memorials.