Suggesting Gov. Roy Cooper belongs to a group of “opportunistic politicians trying to drive a wedge further between us,” on Thursday Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, offered his first detailed response to the week’s protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Durham.
In an op-ed column sent by Berger’s office reflecting on last weekend’s violent, lethal protests in Charlottesville and the destruction of a Confederate statue Monday in Durham by left-wing protesters, the Senate leader said Cooper’s initial response was “reactionary and divisive.” Tuesday, the governor issued a statement and a video message calling for the removal or relocation of Confederate monuments on state property, the repeal of a 2015 state law preventing local jurisdictions from removing historic monuments without the General Assembly’s approval, and the demise of a bill pending in the legislature that would grant limited immunity to motorists who strike some protesters.
Saying the “hatred that wrought murder in Charlottesville was repulsive and horrific,” and “what followed in Durham was discouraging and sad, as rioting and vandalism are not acceptable ways to make political points,” Berger called for healing and reflection.
He also opposed what he called “an impulsive decision to pull down every Confederate monument in North Carolina.”
In closing, Berger said,
I don’t have a lot of answers about what we can do to heal the wounds of racial injustice that still exist in our state and country. But I know it won’t happen with angry mobs. It won’t happen with opportunistic politicians trying to drive a wedge further between us. It will require our leaders to show some humility and compassion as we try to chart a path forward.
The General Assembly will convene Friday at noon for an expected one-day session.