At a time when Confederate monuments are under heightened scrutiny, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police will attempt to protect the city’s from vandalism.
Police announced Tuesday that officers have been instructed to do periodic checks of the city’s Confederate monuments and memorials, and monitor activity near the sites. Police spokesman Rob Tufano said the checks began Tuesday morning, but he didn’t provide a timetable for how long the increased monitoring will last.
Confederate relics in Charlotte include a monument in Elmwood Cemetery that honors the “brave soldiers of the South (who) struggled nobly for the cause of independence and constitutional self-government.” The piece was created in 1977 and originally was at Old City Hall on Trade Street, until it was moved to the city-owned cemetery in 2015, next to Confederate graves.
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CMPD’s announcement came after a group of protesters toppled a Confederate statue in downtown Durham Monday night and a monument in Cornelius was vandalized Sunday. Both incidents followed the deadly white supremacist rally and counterprotests in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
Authorities in Durham arrested a woman Tuesday who helped remove the statue, the Durham Herald-Sun reported.
In Charlotte, there doesn’t appear to be concern from the city, however, that sites will be targeted. Brittany Clampitt, a city spokeswoman, said the team that normally monitors the city’s cemeteries hasn’t changed how it patrols Elmwood.
“As of now, we don’t know of anything,” Clampitt said of any possible threat to the monuments.
Leo Caplanides, a county spokesperson, said additional security hasn’t been added to guard a monument that’s protected in a plexiglass case at the Grady Cole Center and Memorial Stadium.
While cities debate removing Confederate statues and monuments after the violence in Charlottesville, the Confederate statues are protected by law in North Carolina.
The state passed legislation in 2015 that designates them as “objects of remembrance,” making their permanent removal from public property illegal without approval from the North Carolina Historical Commission.
CMPD’s decision to monitor the monuments came on a day when Gov. Roy Cooper called on all of the state’s Confederate monuments to be removed.
In a blog post, and on Twitter, the governor called for a repeal of the 2015 legislation protecting the monuments, announced he’s looking into the “costs and logistics” of removing the objects from state property, and called on the legislature to defeat a bill that allows drivers to strike protesters.
“Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side,” Cooper said. “We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down.”
LaVendrick Smith; 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS