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NC panel reviews potential for Confederate monuments removal from Capitol grounds

The N.C. Historical Commission has named a five-member panel to study the possibility of relocating three Confederate monuments from the Capitol grounds to the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. The battlefield is in Four Oaks, off Interstate 95 about 40 miles northeast of Fayetteville.
The N.C. Historical Commission has named a five-member panel to study the possibility of relocating three Confederate monuments from the Capitol grounds to the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. The battlefield is in Four Oaks, off Interstate 95 about 40 miles northeast of Fayetteville. cseward@newsobserver.com

Could three Confederate monuments be moved from the State Capitol grounds in Raleigh?

The N.C. Historical Commission has named a five-member panel to study the possibility of relocating the monuments to the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. The battlefield is in Four Oaks, off Interstate 95 about 40 miles northeast of Fayetteville. The committee will hold its first meeting via conference call at 3 p.m. Jan. 22. The public can listen via Livestream at https://www.youtube.com/ncculture.

Gov. Roy Cooper requested the move in September. Machelle Sanders, secretary of the Department of Administration and a Cooper appointee, sent to the commission a petition requesting the move, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported at the time. The commission voted in late September to postpone any decision about the petition until April.

One monument – 75 feet tall – is dedicated “To our Confederate Dead.” A second honors Henry Lawson Wyatt, the first Confederate soldier to be killed fighting in the Civil War. The third monument recognizes “Southern women who were left behind during the war,” the commission said Friday in announcing the panel.

Cooper’s request came amid sometimes-violent protests across the country that called for the removal of Confederate monuments from government property.

Confederate monuments were vandalized across North Carolina and other states after a deadly confrontation between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va.

ACLU Charlottesville Backlash
In this Aug. 12, 2017, file photo, white nationalist demonstrators use shields as they guard the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va. The American Civil Liberties Union was reeling from criticism for its role in defending the right of white supremacists’ right to march in Charlottesvile. After that rally left a counter protester dead, some critics said the ACLU had blood on its hands. Steve Helber AP

In one such case, a 27-year-old Davidson man was accused of defacing a Confederate memorial in Cornelius in August. Maxwell Montague Sommer is scheduled to appear in Mecklenburg County Criminal District Court on Jan. 22 on a charge of misdemeanor injury to real property.

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Mecklenburg County prosecutors agreed to amnesty for a 28-year-old Davidson man accused of defacing a Confederate memorial in Cornelius in 2017. Police charged Maxwell Montague Sommer with misdemeanor injury to real property. Davie Hinshaw dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Four Asheville residents were accused of vandalizing a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the heart of the city’s downtown.

A statue of Lee was vandalized near the entrance of Duke Chapel. Protesters pulled down a Confederate monument in downtown Durham. A Confederate memorial, UNC Chapel Hill’s “Silent Sam” statue on McCorkle Place, has been vandalized repeatedly in recent years, usually with spray paint, the Herald Sun of Durham reported.

To some, the 120 Civil War memorials that honor Confederate soldiers in North Carolina symbolize white supremacy. To others, they honor the state that sent more men to fight for the Confederacy than any other and lost 40,000 of them.

At its Jan. 22 meeting, the N.C. Historical Commission’s Confederate Monuments Study Committee plans to discuss its responsibilities and how it will seek public comments and legal advice. The meeting will not include a public comment period.

Search North Carolina’s Civil War monuments using the map below.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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