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Supporters and opponents to removal of statue meet at City Hall

Supporters and those in opposition to the removal of the Confederate statue from the corner of Fourth and Liberty Streets showed up in droves at City Hall earlier this week.

Supporters and opponents to removal of statue meet at City Hall
January 10
09:48 2019

Supporters and those in opposition to the removal of the Confederate statue from the corner of Fourth and Liberty Streets showed up in droves at City Hall earlier this week, eager to share their thoughts on the monument, what it represents, and its future here in the Twin City, during the City Council meeting on Monday, Jan. 7.

The increase in attendance during the council meetings stems from Christmas Day when the statue was vandalized. Around 6 p.m., officers responded to the call and found “Cowards & Traitors” written in permanent ink on the base of the statue. Less than a week later, City Attorney Angela Carmon penned a letter to the owners of the statue to be removed by Jan. 31.

The statue has been vandalized twice in less than two years and city officials believe it is becoming a nuisance that could cause issues that may lead to violence, similar to scenarios we’ve seen play out in Chapel Hill, Durham, and Charlottesville.

Although the statue, owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, wasn’t listed on the agenda more than a dozen people waited nearly two hours to make sure their voices were heard during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“…They were designed to terrorize black neighborhoods. They were designed to reinforce Jim Crow and they were really designed to crush the last hopes of reconstruction,” said Lillian Podlog when discussing Confederate monuments. 

Podlog and others supporters of the city’s decision used the history of the statue to paint a picture of racism, bigotry and hate.

The statue, which depicts a confederate soldier holding a rifle, was dedicated on October 3,1905. Sponsored by the James B. Gordon Chapter #211 of UDOC, and wealthy business and landowners in the area, the dedication speech on that day was derived by Alfred M. Waddell, a white supremacist who served as Mayor of Wilmington around the time of the race riots of 1898.  Waddell was known for his hate rhetoric towards people of color. Records from the University of North Carolina show that Waddell’s speech praised the loyalty of Forsyth County residents to the Confederacy.

“The question at hand is whether the history of the Confederate statue is worth preserving and we need to look at exactly what that history is,” said Podlog “…We shouldn’t be fooling ourselves pretending that this is a monument honoring the dead; it’s not. The majority of Confederate monuments were put up between 1900 and 1960.”

Elder Crystal Rook, a resident of Winston-Salem, said the statue which stands in what is suppose to be the Innovation District, where Black people walk everyday and have to be reminded of the remnants of White supremacy.

“…Innovation is undergirded by the hardened stares of a Confederate solider that represents the remnants of White supremacy. Does this statue belong in an Innovation District? Does it belong anywhere,” asked Rook. “I refuse to allow this statue to remain to be etched in the memory of our daughters and future generations.”

Those against the removal of statue argued that it’s a part of their heritage. Steven Tripplett from High Point, who used a signer to explain why the statue should stay said, “We have to let the statue stay here because it is a part of our family.”

“We are honoring the fallen soldiers that were in the Civil War. That statue belongs to the land and it is Holy. This land belongs to God, our Jesus Christ and those who are opposed should not obsess on hate they should focus on love,” he continued. “Because Martin Luther King said we need to work together to show love and not obsess on hate. And the statue needs to be left alone.”

Following the meeting several people who were against the removal of the statue said they didn’t see a sign-up sheet for the public comment session. Ambrose Hill, state commander of CSA II: The New Confederate State of America, said he showed up nearly an hour before the meeting started to sign up but didn’t get that chance.

While talking with The Chronicle, Hill said his organization is not racist but a historical society. He said their only interest is protecting their history and heritage.

“We’re not in any way an army but we are interested in protecting our history and heritage and we believe that is has been falsely twisted over the years and that what has caused all this unrest. People just don’t understand what the war was over,” said Hill. “It has just been pushed and pushed until the narrative has been that the war was fought solely on the basis of slavery and that’s just false.”

According to Attorney Carmon, during the City Council meeting scheduled for Jan. 22 a mere nine days before the statue is to be removed, Council will allow those for and against the move to speak again.

Hill and other members of the organization say they plan to be there. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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