AG regrets his vote for state monuments law

Posted September 13

— Attorney General Josh Stein said he regrets his vote as a senator two years ago for a state law now at the center of the debate over removing Confederate monuments from public spaces across North Carolina.

The Senate voted unanimously for the Historical Artifacts Management and Patriotism Act, which gives the state Historical Commission authority over moving Confederate statues while also severely limiting that authority.

"In retrospect, if I could do it again, I would have voted differently," Stein said, noting that he paid more attention to flag protection provisions in the law when it was debated.

"I think the law needs to be revisited," he said. "It's wrong for Raleigh to tell every community in this state who they must memorialize in their public space."

Republican legislative leaders defend the law to prevent what they consider knee-jerk decisions on monuments.

"To honor someone like a Gen. (Robert E.) Lee who took up arms against the United States of America, the American flag, in order to preserve slavery, that's wrong," Stein countered.

Public sentiment has evolved since many Confederate statues went up in the early 1900s, he said.

"It was about exuding white supremacy. It was not about honoring people who had long since died," he said.

A group of protesters pulled down a Confederate monument outside the Durham County Courthouse last month, and students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have repeatedly called in recent weeks for the removal of the "Silent Sam" Confederate statue from campus. An attorney for a group of students has threatened a federal lawsuit against the school if the statue remains in place.

Gov. Roy Cooper's administration has asked the Historical Commission to move three Confederate statues from outside the State Capitol to the Bentonville Battlefield historical site in Johnston County.

The commission is set to meet Sept. 22 to consider Cooper's request and others.

Although the commission is in charge of managing monuments and other "objects of remembrance" under the 2015 law, the law prohibits permanent removal and states that any relocation be to "a site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, availability, and access that are within the boundaries of the jurisdiction from which it was relocated."

"The Historical Commission has to approve it, but there are only very limited circumstances by which local governments can seek to have a monument removed. That was wrong," Stein said.


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  • Deborah Turner Sep 20, 11:05 a.m.
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    It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present condition without providing a better. It has invaded a State, and invested with the honors of martyrdom the wretch whose purpose was to apply flames to our dwellings, and the weapons of destruction to our lives. It has broken every compact into which it has entered for our security.... Mississippi Declaration of Secession. // FACT : The Federal Government did not create the States. The States created the Federal Government. // Take a look at present day Detroit, Michigan or Chicago, Ill. and dozens more... on how the North has advanced the African American.

  • D. Aaron Hill Sep 19, 3:24 p.m.
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    Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin. That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove.

    -Mississippi's Declaration of Secession

  • Deborah Turner Sep 19, 9:10 a.m.
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    Yes,oh yes.....it takes a real man to fight against women and children. By then that was mostly all that was left.

  • Linda Tally Sep 18, 11:48 a.m.
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    I've never been a big fan of General Sherman - his attacks against the Native Americans was pure genocide. But the more I hear about "Southern History" from folks who think they know it because their granddaddies told them, the more I think Sherman should have cut a much bigger, deeper swath than just Atlanta to "the sea."

  • Deborah Turner Sep 18, 9:26 a.m.
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    There is a lot more to the story than slavery. The Great Pres. Lincoln didn't care about the slaves...do the research on his documented quotes he made about Blacks. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks..Matt. 12:34 He was a tyrant and his objective was to burn,kill and destroy every family in the South. He is the only U.S. President to order his Generals to wage war on civilians. This left thousands of women,children and sick elderly people totally homeless and starving in the South. And because of this there is a great monument built to a man that had a hatred so deep for the South and it's people that God allowed a Northern born and raised man, John Wilkes Booth to send him to eternity. God gives the final Judgement ....regardless of what century you were born in.

  • Charlie Watkins Sep 16, 11:07 a.m.
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    That is the problem with pandering. You pander to one group and then the winds shifts and you regret that pander. Then you reverse that pander by pandering to the opposing group.

    Pandering is an art form.

  • Jack Harris Sep 16, 9:35 a.m.
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    Mr. Stein should study history as to what the Civil War was really about, of course now he just bends with the wind each tie something comes up!

  • David McCabe Sep 15, 10:57 a.m.
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    Looks like poor Scotty is triggered today. Sorry for your feelings...

  • Deborah Turner Sep 15, 10:52 a.m.
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    We regret having an Attorney General that shifts like the wind.

  • Scott Patterson Sep 14, 1:07 p.m.
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    Great do something about it... take these trash participation awards down.