• 36°

Republican leaders oppose governor’s request to move Capitol grounds Confederate monuments

By Gary D. Robertson

Associated Press

RALEIGH — Republican lawmakers on Thursday pressed a state commission to deny Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s request to relocate Confederate monuments from the old Capitol grounds, with one leader predicting that any such approval would be overturned in court.

Two dozen House GOP leaders sent a memo to the North Carolina Historical Commission on the day before the panel is to meet to consider the Cooper administration’s petition to move three monuments to Bentonville Battlefield, a Civil War site 50 miles south of Raleigh.

Senate leader Phil Berger also copied commission members with his own letter to Cooper asking the governor to withdraw his request, saying the proposal has many problems and the commission lacks authority to grant it.

The commission “would likely lose in court if and when North Carolinians sued over the removal of the monuments,” Berger wrote.

Cooper has said that Confederate monuments on public property across the state should come down following a violent rally last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham a couple of days later.

“We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery,” Cooper wrote last month.

A 2015 state law, however, largely prevents monuments from being removed permanently without legislative action and severely limits their relocation.

The relocation decision rests with the 11-member commission, a panel of professors and local preservation boosters who usually work in anonymity. Seven were appointed or reappointed by GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, the others by Cooper.

The law says the commission’s relocation must 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 administration’s petition contends that Bentonville — the site of the largest battle ever fought in the state — would qualify for that exception and help preserve the monuments.

The March 1865 battle marked the last full-scale action of the Civil War in which a Confederate army mounted a tactical offensive.

Cooper also has said he’s worried that protesters could be injured if they try to topple monuments, and that white supremacists may come to sites in retaliation.

The monuments include a 75-foot monument completed in 1895 to the state’s Confederate dead. The others are the North Carolina Women of the Confederacy monument, dedicated in 1914, and a statue of Henry Lawson Wyatt, dedicated in 1912. Wyatt is described on the statue’s base as the first Confederate soldier killed in battle during the Civil War.

The petition does not cover the “Silent Sam” statue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the site of demonstrations earlier this year.

Berger criticized Cooper in his letter for “sowing political discord” through pressing the relocation of the monuments when “we should be cooperating to solve these significant challenges.”

Berger also described it as “selective outrage” for Cooper to leave in place statues on the Capitol grounds of Gov. Zebulon Vance, a veteran of the Confederate army and governor during the Civil War, and Gov. Charles Aycock, who led a white supremacist political movement in the late 1890s. Both were Democrats.



State to vaccinate medically vulnerable starting March 24


One new death, 20 new COVID-19 positives reported in Rowan


Kannapolis man dies in moped crash


Salisbury Police chief addresses K-9 video, says officer separated from animal


Rowan Rescue Squad sets record straight on fundraising typo


City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year


County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem


Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases


Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan


Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate


Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill


COVID-19 vaccinations in Rowan top positives since start of pandemic


Man faces drug charges after breaking and entering call


Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures


Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being found passed out in vehicle

Ask Us

Ask Us: What programs exist for litter cleanup?


County begins accepting restaurant grant applications


Blotter: Salisbury man charged with nine more felony sex offenses


Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief


Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new solar wings


Cuomo sorry for remarks aide ‘misinterpreted’ as harassment


Trump calls for GOP unity, repeats lies about election loss


Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators


Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police