• 68°

My turn, Susan Lee: Public safety not effectively addressed by delaying response

By Susan Lee

I respond in appreciation to those who spoke regarding “Fame” at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, to Mayor Pro Tem Heggins for advising City Council to not move past those concerns and to Councilwoman Sheffield for speaking clearly and directly about why she is in favor of moving the statue.

Appropriately, Councilman David Post’s comments addressed not only strong legal standing for moving the statue, but also moral issues of concern. Parallels can be drawn between state-sanctioned murders of Jews in Nazi Germany and state sanctioned oppression, discrimination and murder that are delivered upon African-Americans and people of color to this very day in the United States. Nazi emblems such as the swastika have been banned in Germany. There and in other countries they have been replaced with Confederate flags! This coded symbol for intolerance and racial terror has gained global status.

Worldwide recognition of Confederate symbols provides context for noting Councilman Brian Miller’s characterization of “Fame” as a “thing,” and thus, meaningless. It can be maintained that Mr. Miller’s racial privilege and social advantage allow him to regard symbols of oppression, hatred and racial terror as meaningless.  He is afforded the luxury of neutrality on these matters because they do not interfere with his sense of dignity, safety and well-being. However, one cannot view Fame’s central location in Salisbury as meaningless. Otherwise, why would some who “defend” it object to placing it safely in a museum? Why must concerns regarding the statue rise to the level of public danger to be legally moved from its place of honor?

Matters of public safety are not effectively addressed by mincing words or delaying responses. After declaring a state of emergency and enforcing a curfew, why does Mayor Alexander call for further discussion of public safety? The 2019 community meeting regarding “Fame” provided citizens ample notice and opportunity to express their opinions. It was clearly recognized then, as now, that the statue can be moved in the interest of public safety. This was before gunshots were fired, before tear gas was used on our citizens, but not before Charlottesville and locally distributed racial threats that were later recorded in the state’s hate crime database. 

Equally, matters of moral discernment are not effectively addressed by debate or in weighing public opinion. Preferences of the most influential or even the majority of voices should not override what is moral, decent and right. This happened in Nazi Germany. 

It also happened in Salisbury in 1906, when three Black men were lynched as thousands of approving people, including elected officials, looked on. And many were silent. But our nation doesn’t need to turn to history. For examples of such horrors we can turn to the daily news. Still many are silent.

Silence about immoral actions is tantamount to complicity.  Why would Mr. Post and Mr. Miller suggest that people speaking out against hatred and in favor of public safety were doing so as a clandestine, orchestrated plot?  Shots were fired! A state of emergency has been declared! What kind of city would Salisbury be if concerned citizens didn’t step up and speak out? 

Finally, what led council members to refer to moving the statue in the “dark of night” following “secret meetings”? Or that moving it would be unlawful? There is legal provision for local determination of public safety as a basis for moving the statue.

The time has come to respect the concerns of all Salisbury’s citizens. Put “Fame” in a museum where those concerned can be assured of its safety. And at least in this regard, our citizens can be better assured of theirs.

Susan Lee lives in Salisbury.

 

Comments

Local

Catawba holds baccalaureate services for Class of 2021

News

$9M settlement for two men wrongfully sent to death row

Nation/World

China lands spacecraft on Mars in latest advance for its space program

Business

Gas crunch hits Washington; Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in Bitcoin ransome

Coronavirus

State mostly returns to normal operations after 15 months of lockdowns, restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Man accused of stealing car, crashing it

Crime

Man faces new charge of attempted murder for father’s shooting

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate for most situations, gathering limits

Crime

Barnes gets new punishment of two life sentences in Tutterow couple’s 1992 murder

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker

Local

Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank

College

North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys

Education

Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools

Local

Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid

Nation/World

When will gas situation return to normal?

Local

Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

News

GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire

News

Black high school softball player told to cut hair

Coronavirus

State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan

Coronavirus

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Crime

One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday