In a post on the Medium.com website, on Tuesday Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper called for the removal or relocation of monuments honoring Confederates from state property. Cooper also asked the General Assembly to repeal a 2015 law barring local governments from removing those statues or monuments without the legislature’s approval.
“Our Civil War history is important, but it belongs in textbooks and museums — not a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds. And our history must tell the full story, including the subjugation of humans created in God’s image to provide the back-breaking labor that drove the South’s agrarian economy,” Cooper wrote.
Cooper cited two incidents for his announcement:
• the violence this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists marched Friday night and clashed with left-wing protesters Saturday over plans by the city to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a city park named after him and then rename the park. Three were killed and dozens injured, including one person who was killed after being run over by a car allegedly driven by one of the white supremacist protesters.
• an incident Monday night in Durham, where left-wing protesters pulled down and destroyed a Confederate statue on the grounds of the Durham County courthouse.
The governor called for repeal of the 2015 law so that local residents can determine the fate of Confederate monuments on county land; a study by the Department of Cultural and Natural Resources to estimate the cost of removing Confederate memorials from state property and possibly relocating them to museums or historical sites “where they can be studied in context”; and the defeat of a bill now in the General Assembly that would grant immunity to motorists who strike protesters.
“Those who attack protesters, weaponizing their vehicles like terrorists, should find no safe haven in our state,” he wrote.
The legislation passed the House and has not been voted on by the Senate.