NC GOP leader tells Cooper Confederate monuments should stay

Friday, September 22, 2017
RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- One of North Carolina's most powerful Republicans threw a Hail Mary pass to stop Friday morning's impending vote on the fate of three Confederate monuments. But Gov. Roy Cooper signaled he's not backing down.

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Senate leader Phil Berger released the letter he sent the governor: "I do not think an impulsive decision to pull down every Confederate monument in North Carolina is wise, that attempting to rewrite history is a fool's errand."

Berger went on to call Cooper's move, "more political theater than a principled stand."

In a first-of-its-kind vote in North Carolina, the Cooper administration wants the state Historic Commission to sign off on moving three monuments to North Carolina Confederate heroes and families from the Capitol's west lawn to a preserved Civil War battlefield in Johnston County.

The deadly violence surrounding the white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked calls nationwide to remove Confederate monuments that some see as historic heritage and other view as celebrations of slave holding.

The night before the commission gathers, Raleigh resident Lynn Lee was walking her dog on the Capitol grounds. She's seen the monuments, knows the controversy, and wants them gone.

"I think they need to come down," she said. "They do represent history but we don't really have to memorialize them in this way. I know a lot of people have said maybe put them in a cemetery or something."
Chris Snypes was cutting across the grounds Thursday night.

"To be honest, I really never noticed them before," he said. "But now that you brought it to my attention, they're definitely glaring."

ABC11 asked Cooper's office for response to Berger's letter.

"Governor Cooper has said that while our state's Civil War history is important, it belongs in museums, historical sites and textbooks, and not in a place of allegiance on the Capitol grounds," said Cooper spokesperson Ford Porter.

Friday's meeting of the NC Historic Commission begins at 10 a.m. The proceedings are also getting attention for the Confederate monument that is not on the agenda - the Silent Sam statue on the campus at UNC-Chapel Hill.

RELATED: Monument board won't discuss Silent Sam's removal

Student activists upset about the statue's omission are expected to be in attendance as well.
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