Law remains major obstacle in relocating the more than 100 confederate monuments in North Carolina

Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Law remains obstacle in relocating NC's 100+ confederate monuments
Law remains obstacle in relocating NC's 100+ confederate monuments

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A renewed effort to remove or relocate monuments and statues to the Confederacy will once again run resistance that has nothing to do with counter-protests.

In North Carolina, state law prohibits the permanent removal of an "object of remembrance located on public property" with severely limited exceptions. The law, passed in 2015 by the Republican-led General Assembly and signed by former Governor Pat McCrory, has already been cited by the NC Historical Commission in its vote against relocating three Confederate monuments from the State Capitol to Bentonville Battlefield.

"On the surface that law seems straightforward. Cities and counties can't remove a Confederate monument," Adam Lovelady, a professor at UNC School of Government, said. "The crafting of the law and the many ways that scenarios might play out, however, raise questions about the precise scope and effect of the law."

An I-Team analysis counts 109 remaining Confederate statues, monuments and memorials throughout North Carolina; the number not including "Silent Sam" or a statue ripped down in Durham in August 2017.

The analysis also reveals 98 monuments were dedicated after 1900, and three since 2000.

Duke University, as a private institution, was able to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from the famed Duke Chapel on August 19, but state law prohibits any public action without the consent of the NC Historical Commission.


Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has denounced violent takedowns of monuments, but in the past he has voiced support for moving the monuments, declaring in 2017: "We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down."

In March 2018, a five-member Study Committee on Relocation of Monuments began a series of public comment forums to gauge interest in the potential relocation of three Confederate monuments at the State Capitol; The Study Committee's charge follows a petition from Gov. Roy Cooper and the N.C. Department of Administration to move the monuments from the Capitol grounds in Raleigh to the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site in Four Oaks.

The task force ultimately voted against relocating three Confederate monuments from the State Capitol but also urged adding plaques and memorials honoring African-Americans - none of which has happened yet.

In three resolutions, the five-member Task Force roundly criticized the legacy of the Confederacy and blasted the movement's stances on race and slavery.

Members also blasted the circumstances that led to the dedication of the three monuments on the Capitol grounds: a tall obelisk of the Confederate Soldiers Monument outside the State Capitol was dedicated in 1895 while the Monument to the Women of the Confederacy was dedicated in 1914.