Rocky Mount city council votes 7-1 to remove, store Confederate monument at Battle Park

Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Rocky Mount city council to take final vote on removing Confederate monument at Battle Park
The Rocky Mount City Council is expected to take a final vote on whether to remove the Confederate monument at Battle Park.

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Rocky Mount City Council held a vote on whether to remove the Confederate monument at Battle Park on Monday.

Just before 8:30 p.m., the council voted 7-1 to remove the statue and store it. The vote also included support for Black Lives Matter.

During a budget meeting last week, city council members took a preliminary vote to remove the monument and put it somewhere safe. At least one city council member said opponents would bring it down if the city didn't move it.

Council member Reuben Blackwell introduced the motion. Blackwell's 24-year-old son, Cooper, organized a George Floyd demonstration by the monument May 31.

"I think it was an appropriate time to take action not just considering the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement around the nation, but it was also a testament to their style of being ahead of the game," Blackwell said.

But it's unclear how easy it will be to remove the monument due to a 2015 North Carolina law.

W.B. Bullock is the only council member who voted against the removal last week. He said he thinks they should delay the vote until legal matters are worked out.

When asked if he supports removing the monument, Bullock said he'd rather see it moved than destroyed.

Obviously there is some support for the monument. Somebody left flowers there, dedicated to Nash County Confederate soldiers.

But Blackwell said he believes Rocky Mount leadership will remove it.

"We feel like a symbol of white supremacy does not need to exist in such an area," Blackwell said. "So we'll do what we have to do to push the fight and it's coming down."

Mayor Pro Tem Andre Knight released the following statement Monday evening:

"The vote to remove the confederate monument demonstrates the council's focus on unifying the community and its commitment to ensure everyone feels welcomed to Rocky Mount, and residence proud to call Rocky Mount home. This is indeed a historic moment--103 years that this monument has cast shadow of fear and intimidation over Rocky Mount, one that will never be forgotten--a healing for the community, putting us on the right path as we move the city forward."