Hundreds attend spirited debate about Pittsboro's Confederate statue

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- A debate continues in Chatham County about what to do with a Confederate monument.

Hundreds packed a county commissioners meeting in Pittsboro on Monday night to speak in favor of removing the monument that was given to the county by the Daughters of the Confederacy back in 1907.

Others wanted to keep it where it is.

"I'm in favor of the statue staying," said one man. "Lots of ancestors of mine have fought and they didn't die for slavery. They had no slaves."

The group Chatham for All presented to the board and encouraged the county to remove the statue and rescind its license with the Daughters of the Confederacy.

"We do not come here to try and erase history," said Howard Fifer.

Chris Kamen also spoke at the podium to the county commissioners.

"The monument outside the courthouse no longer reflects the values of the attitudes of the majority of Chatham County citizens, if it ever did," Kamen said.

The group said nearly 1,000 residents have signed a petition supporting the idea of removing it.

Another group of people who are in favor of keeping the monument stood outside the old courthouse where the statue stands gathered Monday, as well.

"When somebody comes down here and wants to tear that statue down, they're infringing on our history," said Scott Gilmore. "It's not just mine but everyone who is here. If you're going to take the statue down, take them all down."

Mike Dasher is the chair of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners.

"We all know this presentation is about more than about a monument or about copper or granite," Dasher said. "This is about changing Chatham County and a changing South and yes it's about race."

Vicki Atkinson is a long time resident of the county.

"The cause of the Confederacy was wrong," she said. "The monuments honor the wrong side of history. A statue to White Supremacy should not stand in front of our court house."

There's no timetable on a vote.

The group Chatham for All said it's going to wait for the commissioners to act and then decide if they need to do more.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans strongly supports maintaning the statue in its current form.

In a statement to ABC11, the organization said:

"We, the North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, are totally against the removal of Chatham County's Confederate memorial. There is absolutely no reason why the memorial should be removed and this manufactured controversy only began because some are perversely inspired by the lawlessness and mobs in Chapel Hill in Durham. Chatham County's Confederate memorial is part of the county's rich history and recognizes the serious contributions and sacrifices that its residents made during the War Between the States. The people of Chatham County who erected the memorial intended it to stand for eternity in a prominent place so these great deeds would not be forgotten. Unfortunately, they did not envision the hypocrisy and foolishness that characterizes those who are so eager to re-write history as political partisans."
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