Politics & Government

Leaders of NC legislature stand by law that protects Confederate monuments

A look back at the history of UNC’s Silent Sam

The Confederate statue on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus known as 'Silent Sam' was a point of friction and protest long before becoming part of the national conversation. Here's a look at the monument's history.
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The Confederate statue on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus known as 'Silent Sam' was a point of friction and protest long before becoming part of the national conversation. Here's a look at the monument's history.

House Democrats have filed a bill to repeal a 2015 law that restricts the removal of Confederate and other monuments on public property, but legislative leaders are indicating they’re reluctant to revisit the controversial issue.

House Bill 10 was filed Wednesday by Democratic Reps. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro, Evelyn Terry of Winston-Salem, Marcia Morey of Durham, and Kelly Alexander of Charlotte. It would repeal the provisions in a 2015 law that bans state agencies and local governments from taking down any “object of remembrance” on public property that “commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.” That effectively means legislation must be passed in order to remove or relocate Confederate monuments.

Asked about the bill Wednesday, House Speaker Tim Moore said he sees no need to change the law now.

“We’ve already passed the law — at this point it’s a matter of enforcement of the law, and if folks want to challenge that and have questions, that’s where the courts come in,” he said.

UNC-Chapel Hill leaders have said the law limits their options in deciding the future of the Silent Sam statue that was torn down by protesters. A working group from the UNC Board of Governors is currently developing a plan for the statue, but the legislature has the power to intervene if it chooses to.

That won’t happen, Senate leader Phil Berger said Wednesday.

“My position is that that’s in their court,” he said of the Board of Governors. “We’ve elected and appointed those folks to deal with some of those issues, and I think we need to let them do that. I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to reach down and try to micromanage that.”

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