Local News

NC Civil War monuments could become flashpoint

Posted August 16
Updated August 17

— Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that he wants Confederate memorials across the state removed from public locations, fearing they will become magnets for protests and flashpoints for violence similar to the weekend clash in Charlottesville, Va., that left one person dead and nearly two dozen injured.

"My first responsibility as governor is to protect North Carolinians and keep them safe," Cooper said in an online post. "The likelihood of protesters being injured or worse as they may try to topple any one of the hundreds of monuments in our state concerns me. And the potential for those same white supremacist elements we saw in Charlottesville to swarm the site, weapons in hand, in retaliation is a threat to public safety."

The comments came in the wake of a Monday night protest in Durham in which a Confederate statue outside the former county courthouse was pulled down. Four people now face criminal charges in the case.

Civil War monuments in NC Civil War monuments in NC

On Tuesday, two Confederate monuments in Wilmington were spray painted. One had a white flag tied to it and a rope around it, so police said they believe someone planned to topple it.

Cooper's concerns aren't overblown, with organizers of the Charlottesville rally by white nationalists predicting more such events that will be larger and more violent.

"I'd say it's going to be really tough to top, but we're up to the challenge," Christopher Cantwell said in a Sunday night interview with HBO's Vice News from a Roanoke Rapids motel room. "I think a lot more people are going to die before we're done here, frankly."

WARNING: This video contains profanity.

Some North Carolinians seem to agree with Cantwell.

When a neo-Confederate group in Alamance County criticized Cooper's statements on Facebook, more than 100 people responded, including some with threatening language.

"He needs to become a casualty of the upcoming war," one commenter said, referring to Cooper.

Another commenter suggested, "Shoot 'em all."

A third posted photos of guns and ammunition with the comment, "Let's get this thing started. I'M READY."

The threats were deleted by a group administrator, who said the group focuses on Southern heritage, not hate, and the comments don't reflect those values.

The Governor's Office and the state Department of Public Safety wouldn't comment when asked if officials are looking into any threats against Cooper on social media or elsewhere.

Secretary of Public Safety Erik Hooks did confirm, however, that State Capitol Police have stepped up patrols on the Capitol grounds, where a Confederate monument is located.

"We are closely monitoring the events that have occurred in North Carolina and other states," Hooks said in a statement. "DPS will maintain a presence in public areas and will continue to be vigilant to help ensure order, with its primary mission being public safety."

Cooper said he has asked the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to figure out how Confederate monuments across North Carolina could be moved from outside public buildings to museums and historic sites. He also urged lawmakers to repeal a 2015 law that prohibits Confederate monuments to be moved or altered without legislative approval.

"Our Civil War history is important, but it belongs in textbooks and museums – not a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds," he said. "And our history must tell the full story, including the subjugation of humans created in God’s image to provide the back-breaking labor that drove the South’s agrarian economy."


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  • Nicolle Leney Aug 17, 10:52 a.m.
    user avatar

    The issue is that until the NC GA changes the law, they have given people NO legal options whatsoever. When people have NO legal recourse, they often resort to other tactics. You can’t tell people to go through the proper channels. There are none.

    Per the "Historic Artifact Management & Patriotism Act," it is literally legally IMPOSSIBLE to remove statues on PUBLIC property. EVER. If relocated, it has to 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." It cannot be relocated to a museum, cemetery, or mausoleum unless it was already at that type of site. The way they wrote the law, there is NO alternative option. None. Zip. Nada.

    Cities and counties should have the right to make this decision. At least change the law to require it to be voted on as a city- or county-specific item during elections.

  • Scott Satalino Aug 17, 10:12 a.m.
    user avatar

    REPUBLICANS protested these Statues and Monuments when they were erected.

    Now, it is the Republicans who support them. The Republicans took up the mantel of Bigotry and Hatred from the Democrats since the Civil Rights era (the Old guard Democrat Party still carries the mantel as well).

    The comments on this board are basically disgusting lies and hate propagated by Art Pope and the NCGOP.

    There is absolutely NOTHING about the Party of Lincoln that would support men who wanted a Slave-Holding Republic.

    These Statues and Monuments are disgusting.

  • William James Aug 17, 10:10 a.m.
    user avatar

    Its sad that the only thing Southerners feel enough pride in to build over 1500 Statues and Monuments is the Confederacy and its Generals! Apparently nothing else in our states history or people is worth building statues or honoring at this scale. Especially sad given that we have so many far more deserving military hero that would be far more deserving of being honored than many of the confederate generals, who rarely had to risk their lives to the extent of their soldiers.

  • Tom Baker Aug 17, 9:32 a.m.
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    Leave those statues in place and pair them up with statues that honor the victims of slavery and oppression in the South.

  • Pete Knowles Aug 17, 9:25 a.m.
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  • Jeffrey Derry Aug 17, 8:40 a.m.
    user avatar

    In the #fakenews #bashtripumomedia biased driven agendas it is

  • Charlie Watkins Aug 17, 8:20 a.m.
    user avatar

    It is not about the statues.

    They were looking for a reason to protest and there they were.

    Once this issue has been resolved they will be protesting somewhere else.

    If you got a hammer you need a nail.

  • Marty Baker Aug 17, 8:01 a.m.
    user avatar

    I think we all realize now how much we miss Pat McCrory. Thanks again Durham.

  • Phillip Mozingo Aug 17, 6:50 a.m.
    user avatar

    There will be a petition circulating in a day or so calling for the impeachment of cooper.

  • Michael Bawden Aug 17, 6:08 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Excellent post.