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City finally has Confederate statue removed

City finally has Confederate statue removed
March 12
13:48 2019

After weeks of protest, heated conversations at City Hall, and ongoing conversations on social media, on Tuesday, March 12, the Confederate statue located at the corner of Fourth and Liberty Streets in downtown Winston-Salem was removed.

The statue, which depicts a Confederate soldier holding a rifle, was dedicated on October 3, 1905, and sponsored by the James B. Gordon Chapter #211 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and wealthy business and landowners in the area. The dedication speech was delivered by Alfred M. Waddell, a white supremacist who served as mayor of Wilmington and led the violent race riots of 1898.

Talks about the removal of the statue have been floating around for about two years now, following two separate incidents where the statue was vandalized. In August of 2017, shortly after white supremacists marched in Virginia, two sides of the statue were defaced with a black “X”. Then on Christmas Day last year, officers with the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) responded to a call that the monument had been defaced again. Upon arrival, officers found the words “Cowards & Traitors” in permanent marker.

In response to the vandalism, City Attorney Angela Carmon issued a letter to the UDOC demanding that the statue be removed by Jan. 31, 2019, or face legal action from the City. In the letter, Carmon said the removal of the statue was about public safety.

As the deadline for removal drew closer, those in support and those against the city’s decision to remove the statue met several times at the busy intersection to ensure their voices were heard. Lillian Podlog, an organizer for Hate Out of Winston, a group that was formed to keep the pressure on city officials to remove the statue, said the statue needed to come down because it represents hate. During a rally in early January, Podlog said, “… Yes it is history, but we must ask what that history is. That statue was put up in 1905 by a man who murdered black people and went on to become mayor of Wilmington. That’s the history we’re talking about here,” said Podlog. “If you want to honor history, let’s be clear on what that history is. It’s not about honoring a soldier like they say.”

Those opposed to the removal of the statue told The Chronicle that the Confederate statue in downtown Winston-Salem and others across the country had little to do with slavery and the oppression of black people. While defending the statue, an individual from Davie County said, “… I studied that time period for 18 years and the sad truth of it is there’s so much ignorance about what that war was about. It was not about slavery, it was about tariffs and money. It was a political war.”

Although January 31 came and went without much action, the City of Winston-Salem kept their promise and removed the statue before noon on Tuesday, March 12. The statue is expected to be relocated to the Salem Cemetery where more than 30 Confederate graves are located.

It is unclear if the United Daughters of the Confederacy will face any legal action.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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