Crumpled Confederate statue should be displayed as is, Durham committee recommends

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Durham committee tasked with coming up with a plan for the toppled Durham courthouse Confederate statue suggested displaying the destroyed statue in its current condition.

"(The statue) is not salvageable, but it is a historical artifact...and it has additional meaning in its current state," the committee said.

In August 2017, protesters toppled the statue that once stood outside the Durham courthouse.
Durham City-County Committee on Confederate Monuments and Memorials spent months gathering information about the monument and feedback from Durham citizens.

The committee chairwomen presented their report to Durham City Council and Durham County Board of Commissioners.

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"(The statue) is not salvageable, but it is a historical artifact...and it has additional meaning in its current state," the committee said.

The committee suggested a four-pronged approach to tackling the controversy surrounding the toppled courthouse Confederate statue and context surrounding Durham history.

  • 1. Display the damaged Durham courthouse Confederate monument in its damaged state inside the courthouse
  • 2. Turn the base of the statue into a public art display about the Civil War
  • 3. Add context to other historical markers
  • 4. Commission works of public art and memorials to honor contributions to Durham history made by Native Americans, enslaved people, women leaders, LGBTQ leaders, and more

After the committee unveiled its recommendation, Durham city and county leaders asked questions and raised concerns about the recommendations.

Many council members and commissioners praised the committee for its work, but Durham Commissioner Vice-Chair James Hill pointed out one part of the plan that he said offended him.

"You can't be serious...that is the most offensive thing I've heard today. I can't believe that would even be pushed," Hill said.

Hill was talking about the recommendation to move the base of the Confederate statue (after it has been turned into a piece of art honoring Confederate soldiers, Union soldiers, and enslaved people during the Civil War) to Beachwood Cemetery. This part of the committee's recommendation was a caveat to what to do with the base of the monument in the event the if North Carolina state law currently making it impossible to move the monument was ever changed.

Beechwood Cemetery contains the graves of many of Durham's early African-American business and community leaders.

"I just don't understand. There are no Confederate dead at Beechwood Cemetery. I'm sorry. I have to disengage for a second," Hill said.

Debate about this particular part of the committee's recommendation went on for another seven minutes.

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel ended the debate and motioned to have the whole recommendation, without the possibility of the monument ever being moved to Beechwood Cemetery, moved on to county managers and attorneys for further input.

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