Letter: If not now, when will Salisbury remove statue?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 7, 2020

Last Sunday evening, a Confederate sympathizer shot a gun over peaceful protesters in downtown Salisbury near the Confederate statue.

Let this be the act that finally moves “Fame.”

City Council must finally remove this source of conflict and violence from the heart of our wonderfully diverse city.

More clearly than ever, this statue poses a threat to public safety — specifically to the lives and well-being of black residents who have the right to live free of fear and intimidation. City Council must use the public safety exceptions in the state law and 1908 resolution that established “Fame.”

The state law allows City Council to remove a monument because of “an unsafe or dangerous condition.” The resolution allows them to rescind the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s right to use the land “in the interest of public safety.”

The violence due to “Fame” continues to escalate. If not now, when? When someone has been shot? When someone has died? We’ve had public hearings and forums. We’ve had well-intentioned attempts to bring the UDC and Sons of Confederate Veterans to the table. The time for talk is done. The city must act to protect black citizens.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has said, “Right now, under current law, if the memorial or statue represents a risk to the public, then whether it’s the sheriff, the building inspector, the campus police, the chancellor, they have the authority to remove it in order to preserve the public safety.”

“Fame” presents a clear and imminent danger to the safety of our community. City Council has the ability — and the responsibility — to remove that danger. It’s as clear as gunshots ringing out on a Sunday evening.

— Emily Ford