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- On 14 August, the “Confederate Monument,” a statue that was dedicated in 1924 and bears the Confederate seal, was pulled down in Durham, North Carolina.
- The “Confederate Monument” was dedicated on 10 May 1924 in memory of “the boys who wore the gray.”
- The statue depicts an “armed and uniformed soldier,” but does not represent a particular Confederate general or soldier.
- On 15 August, protester Takiya Thompson, who helped pull the statue down, was arrested by Durham police.
- Author and journalist Jonathan Katz reported Thompson’s arrest on Twitter:
I just watched officers arrest Takiya Thompson, a college student who says she participated in taking down the Confederate statue in Durham pic.twitter.com/xyvdR8LBnb
— Jonathan M. Katz 听不懂 (@KatzOnEarth) August 15, 2017
- David Graham, a writer for The Atlantic, reported that warrants were being executed related to the statue’s removal:
And Taqiyah Thompson, who put rope around statue, was just arrested after a pressed at NCCU pic.twitter.com/GvnPYxzgSg
— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) August 15, 2017
- The statue in Durham was pulled down days after a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- One woman was killed when a white nationalist protester allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
- Members of the right — including white nationalists and neo-Nazis — had gathered in Charlottesville to protest the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
- In June in St. Louis, a Confederate memorial in Forest Park was reportedly vandalized twice in one week with phrases such as “end racism” and “black lives matter” spray painted on the monument. The statue was taken down in early July.
- The statue depicted “The Angel of the Spirit of the Confederacy,” and showed a family and a soldier as he heads to war.
- On 19 May, New Orleans removed a Confederate statue. New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu discussed the statue’s removal in a speech:
“These statues are not just stone and metal. They’re not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for. And after the Civil War, these monuments were part of that terrorism as much as burning a cross on someone’s lawn. They were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.”
- On 26 May, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was asked about the removal of Confederate statues in Baltimore. Pugh responded that she was going to “tackle” the issue. She also said:
“The city does want to remove these, and so we will take a closer look at it and see how we go about the business of following in the footsteps of New Orleans.”
- On 19 March in Alabama, Senate Bill 60, the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017, was passed. According to the act, “monuments 50 years and older [are] prohibited from relocation or removal, [and] monuments less than 50 years old [are] required to get permission of Permanent Joint Committee on Alabama Monument Protection.”
- The bill works “to prohibit the relocation, removal, alteration, renaming, or other disturbance of any architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument located on public property which has been in place for 40 or more years.”
Reactions to the Durham Statue Removal
- On 14 August, North Carolina Roy Cooper tweeted:
The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments #durham – RC
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) August 15, 2017
- On 15 August, following his tweet, Governor Cooper wrote an article about the statue’s removal.
“I understand the frustration of those fed up with the pace of change. But after protesters toppled a statue in Durham Monday night, I said there was a better way to remove these monuments.
My first responsibility as governor is to protect North Carolinians and keep them safe. 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.”
- On 15 August, the Durham County Sheriff’s office tweeted:
— Durham Sheriff (@DurhamSheriff) August 15, 2017
Supporters of Removing Confederate Statues
- Addressing the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, Rich Lowry wrote for the National Review:
“The monuments should go. Some of them simply should be trashed; others transmitted to museums, battlefields, and cemeteries. The heroism and losses of Confederate soldiers should be commemorated, but not in everyday public spaces where the monuments are flashpoints in poisonous racial contention, with white nationalists often mustering in their defense.”
- Christine Emba wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post:
“There will always be space for remembering our history, but remembering isn’t the end of it: We must also decide which parts of it are worthy of continued celebration and which are not. Those attempting to keep the past alive under the guise of protecting Confederate memorials need to recognize that this is the case, as uncomfortable as that might be.”
- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in his speech addressing the removal of Confederate statues in New Orleans:
“To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our more prominent places – in honor – is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, is an affront to our present and it is a bad prescription for our future.”
- David Blight, director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, told Slate:
“Those who defend the monuments who have Confederate ancestors say that they weren’t white supremacists, and that the monuments are about soldiers and sacrifice and valor… Yes, people fought with valor and courage, but for a cause that was holding back history.”
Critics of Removing Confederate Statues
- Carolyn Billups, former president of the Maryland chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, told the Baltimore Sun:
“I find it interesting that Baltimore city has that kind of money to move statues when there are problems with crime and schools. I would think that would be more of a priority.”
- Retweeting a Washington Post story on the removal of a statue of Confederate General Lee in New Orleans, political commentator Laura Ingraham said, “I feel sick to my stomach.”
I feel sick to my stomach. One of the greatest gentleman soldiers in history, to paraphrase FDR. https://t.co/CsbqgTv6tV
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) May 20, 2017
- John Daniel Davidson wrote an op-ed for The Federalist on the removal of Confederate statues in New Orleans:
“The reason for keeping them has nothing to do with honoring the cause of the Confederacy or the memory of slavery… The case for keeping our Confederate monuments has everything to do with preserving our history, the better to understand it. The history of the Civil War and the Confederacy is complicated and, even to this day, painful for some Americans. But a standing monument isn’t the same as a flag flying in a place of honor.”
- Writing about Alabama’s decision to pass the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017, State Representative Mack Butler wrote in a post on Facebook:
“I just received word from Governor Ivey’s Office that the Monument Protection Act was just signed moments ago and is now law. Thank you Gov Ivey and Sen Gerald Allen I was very proud to have been the House sponsor for this very historic piece of legislation.”
- Alabama State Senator Gerald Allen addressed the Memorial Preservation Act of 2017, tweeting:
Contrary to what its detractors say, the Memorial Preservation Act is intended to preserve all of Alabama’s history–the good and the bad. 4
— Senator Gerald Allen (@SenGeraldAllen) May 25, 2017
Megan Evershed contributed to this report.