Another One Bites the Dust

Word from North Carolina is the confederate monument in Pittsboro, North Carolina was removed.

Photo: Scott Sharpe/Associated Press

We learn from this story, “Preparations began Tuesday night to carefully dismantle the statue of a soldier outside the historic Chatham County Courthouse, where it had stood since 1907, and continued for hours overnight, said county spokeswoman Kara Lusk Dudley. By dawn, even the base was gone. A subdued crowd of several dozen people watched the work unfold. Television news footage showed workers atop motorized lifts secure the statue, which was then hoisted away by a crane as a few people cheered.” The same story tells us, “It has been rare for public officials to take down Confederate statues in North Carolina since the enactment of a 2015 state historic monuments law restricting the removal of public monuments. But county officials argued in court that the monument was private property, owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and a judge hearing the group’s challenge declined to block the removal.”

According to this article, ” ‘It’s heartbreaking,’ Robert Butler said as crews worked overnight. ‘A statue’s never hurt a soul, just like a grave memorial. Do they hurt anybody?’ Anderson Ritter disagreed. ‘It represents stuff that never really should have happened, and it kind of memorializes and makes it seem good,’ Ritter said. ‘I and other people don’t agree with that.’ A poll released Wednesday by Elon University found that most North Carolina residents think Confederate monuments should stay on public property. Of the respondents, 65 percent said the monuments should stay on public property, while 25 percent said removing them doesn’t help race relations.” It tells us, “Butler and other monument supporters returned to the courthouse Wednesday afternoon, flying Confederate flags next to the empty space where the statue had stood for more than 100 years. ‘It’s a memorial to dead soldiers,’ Butler said. ‘I know it stands for other things for other people, but for the ones that stand out here and support it, it’s for the soldiers who didn’t get to come home.’ But others in downtown Pittsboro supported the removal. ‘The courthouse looks better without it. I’m glad it’s gone,’ said Hal Sanders, who grew up in Pittsboro but now lives in Hillsborough. ‘As I got older, as I understood what it was about. It stood for keeping a person a slave, and that kind of bothered me.’ ‘I think there are more appropriate places if people do want to honor fallen Confederate soldiers – cemeteries are great, museums are great – but outside of a courthouse is not an appropriate place for a statue like that,’ Mary Beth Miller said. ‘For me, being a local, it feels like a step forward.’ ”

We also learn, “The local UDC chapter donated the monument to Chatham County in 1907, and the group filed suit last month to prevent its removal under a 2015 state law regarding such monuments on public property. But county officials said the UDC still owns the monument, and they declared it a “public trespass” at the beginning of November because the organization hadn’t taken any steps to remove it after the commissioners said in August that they wanted it gone. The UDC lawsuit is still pending, but county officials said they think the chances that they would have to put the monument back up outside the courthouse are slim.”

Reading this article tells us, “The statue and the pedestal were transported to a location where they will be stored until the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which owns the monument and works to honor Confederate history, ‘finds a more appropriate location to place them,’ the news release said. The removal of the statue, which depicts a Confederate soldier, followed the dismantling of monuments to the Confederacy in parks, public squares and college campuses across the country, often by way of official decree and in other cases at the hands of enraged protesters.” The article also tells us, “Tensions between protesters supporting and opposing the statue’s removal boiled over on Saturday, when an altercation broke out that led to 11 arrests, according to the site. ‘The last several months have been a painful time for Chatham County,’ Mike Dasher, the chairman of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, said in the news release on Wednesday. ‘We’ve experienced high emotions, division and even violence which have impacted residents, businesses and the overall feel of our community.’ Most of the county’s residents are eager to move forward, he said. But North Carolina residents are largely in favor of keeping Confederate monuments on public, government-owned property, according to an Elon University poll released on Wednesday. Sixty-five percent of the nearly 1,500 people who were surveyed believed that the monuments should stay put, while 35 percent said they should be removed. The survey also found that 73 percent of respondents were in favor of adding plaques that add historical context, and 65 percent said that moving the monuments to history museums was a good idea. Asked if removing Confederate monuments mostly helped or hurt race relations, 35.5 percent said that removing them ‘mostly hurts,’ while 24.6 percent said it would help. The remaining 39.9 percent said the action would not make a difference.” Something else we learn is, “Pittsboro, a town of 4,000 people about 30 miles west of Raleigh, sits in a county that is 71.6 percent white, 12.7 percent African-American and 12.5 percent Hispanic, according to Chatham County data. The county also has a long history of racist violence, including the lynchings of at least six black people, according to The Chatham News and Record.”

Given the current climate, it seems to me more local communities will decide confederate monuments no longer represent their values, and it’s entirely appropriate for the local communities to make that decision and to act on that decision. Those who say this is destroying history don’t know what they’re talking about.

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