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Vandals tag Confederate monument in Durham cemetery

Posted July 1, 2015

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— A monument in Maplewood Cemetery in Durham honoring local Confederate soldiers was vandalized overnight.

"Black Lives Matter" and "Tear It Down" were spray-painted on the granite marker, which was put up in May to honor all veterans who fought for the Confederacy in the Orange County area during the Civil War.

Douglas Nash, commander of the Pvt. Lorenzo Leigh Bennitt Camp 773 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which put up the $3,000 monument, said he was saddened by the vandalism.

"Black lives do matter. Take it down is definitely not the way to go," Nash said. "It’s not like we are honoring the Nazis who have committed atrocities. The folks from the South were simple folks who felt they were being invaded. It had nothing to do with slavery. It just saddens me to no end to see things like this happen."

Maplewood Cemetery, off Duke University Road near Duke's West Campus, is owned by the city of Durham, and officials said the gates are locked daily at 3:45 p.m.

Durham police are investigating the crime.

SCV member Stewart Dunaway spent part of Wednesday scrubbing and power-washing the marker to remove most of the damage. City crews were able to remove what he couldn't

"I'm disappointed but not surprised," Dunaway said. "The horrific event at Charleston obviously has caused a lot of issues to resurface about the role of the Confederates."

Nine people attending a Bible study class at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., were killed on June 17, and a white supremacist who posed in online photos with the Confederate battle flag has been charged in the shooting.

"When you go to school, you see this overshadowing dislike or hatred to the Confederacy, and that general view (is) attaching it directly to slavery," said Dunaway, who had ancestors from Florida who fought for the South in the Civil War.

"I have pride that my relatives were willing to take a stand," he said. "What frightens me is that, when history is going to be altered to be politically correct or to follow a path that people think is the right way to report it, people never get a balanced history. As soon as we start to alter history to paint a different picture, the truth isn’t known."

But William Barney, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an expert on the antebellum South, said the truth is that the Civil War was explicitly about slavery and white supremacy.

"It was exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for a majority of Southern whites after the war – and now – to openly state we fought the war in order to maintain a vast system of human bondage," Barney said. "It’s very difficult to confront the central reality. That means looking it in the face. That’s very difficult to do. We’d rather come up with defenses – 'Oh, it’s all about states’ rights.'"

The battle flag became a symbol to justify the "holy cause" of the war for the South, he added.

The SCV group picked Maplewood Cemetery for the memorial because members have also upgraded sections of the cemetery with markers for veterans, Nash said. Members also have ceremonies at the cemetery to honor their ancestors, he said.

"Imagine, if you will, in May your father died or mother died or someone special to you died. You put up a nice headstone, and someone has gone and vandalized it. It just makes no sense," he said.

70 Comments

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  • Mike Hill Jul 2, 2015
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    We should not be as the media and wallow and wring our hands over the actions of a few disaffected souls. Black lives do matter, but so do the lives of everyone else.

  • Stephen Believable Jul 2, 2015
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    For such a dedicated opponent to racism, you seem to see things in black and white. The point you made about poverty is a good one, being from an impoverished area is not easy.

    Businesses do not want to set up shop in a poor neighborhood.... there isn't much money to make. That is just business, not racist business practices.

    Police patrol your petri dish of crime to fight crime. You get sentenced worse if you can't afford a good lawyer. The whole justice system is jacked up.

    Banks want to loan to people they can make money off of. Why would a bank loan to someone more likely to not have a job or more likely to get arrested? If a bank were to use your stats, then its racism?

    Using statistics as excuses for failure hurts communities, destroys ambition, and removes the importance of personal responsibility.

    Please tell us more about "what should happen." Try not to crush the dreams of those on the verge of giving up hope this time.

  • Dan May Jul 2, 2015
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    Shae, it is not a superiority of race issue. The sad facts of black over representation in violent crime (both as victims and offenders), incarceration, early violent death, and other statistics is undeniable. The issue is that a segment of our population is in crisis (particularly young black males). Something needs to happen to reverse this trend. Why deflect and defend to avoid the issue? Maybe with acknowledgement movement can happen? All the racism tripe from both sides just makes solutions impossible. We have to work together to have any chance.

  • Dan May Jul 2, 2015
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    And one of the sad, but understandable facts that make the situation of black disenfranchisement such a self perpetuating system is that the a large segment of black culture has largely accepted this lot in life for itself. The low expectations, devaluation of education and professional attainment. Glorification of criminal life and idolization of anti-social role models.

    Of course, white culture reinforces this by stereotyping and holding low expectations. I see movement in breaking out of this thought cycle we are in however. A new and growing black professional class that is breaking with this system and identifies with a new idea of being black. A post racial movement among many educated young people that is adopting new role models and new social constructs. But more needs to happen...

  • Roy Hinkley Jul 2, 2015
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    Angel was mocking a comment by GERRIMY TANN, where they condemned ignorance and later stated that SC seceded in 1891 (which is presume was a typo).

  • Raleigh Rose Jul 2, 2015
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    I can't tell if you are being serious or not. SC did not secede 30 years after the end of the Civil War. They were the first state to secede. A secession convention was held on December 20, 1860 after Lincoln was elected and they voted to secede. Their statement to leave the Union was adopted on December 24, 1860.

    http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/declarationofcauses.html

    The Civil War started on April 12, 1861. It began when the Confederate General, Beauregard opened fire on the Union held Fort Sumter off the SC coast.
    http://www.historyplace.com/civilwar/

    Where do you get that SC didn't secede till 30 years after the end of the Civil War?

  • Angel Nardo-Myers Jul 2, 2015
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    Amen

  • Angel Nardo-Myers Jul 2, 2015
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    There is still slavery in Africa yet not in the US ...how do you explain this? ISIS is enslaving hundreds everyday in the middle east. I don't think anyone agrees that slavery of anyone is a good thing but slavery has been around these the beginning of time. Blacks aren't the only race ever enslaved. Honor your heritage and ancestors that is your right, but how do you know that your ancestors weren't involved in the African slave trade...sense you are making judgements.

  • David Dezern Jul 2, 2015
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    I would like prof barney to explain how that if the civil war was all about slaves, how is that General Grant, a northener owned slaves and even kept them for 2 years after the war?? Sure glad my sons never went to unc if thats what they have for teachers

  • Angel Nardo-Myers Jul 2, 2015
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    WOW... SC left the Union 30 years after the Civil War began.... interesting fact. I can see why all of these "ignorant " comments are annoying to you.

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