A North Carolina mayor is threatening legal action unless a women’s historical society removes a statue of a Confederate soldier that it owns in downtown Winston-Salem.
During a Tuesday event, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines announced that City Attorney Angela Carmon sent a letter to the Daughters of the Confederacy organization asking that it relocate its statue. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the city is asking the group to move the statue from its current downtown location to Salem Cemetery, where 36 Confederate soldiers are buried.
Joines and Carmon are citing vandalism of the statue as reason for its removal, saying that the city cannot provide sufficient security. The statue was vandalized twice in 2018, most recently on Christmas Day when vandals spray-painted “cowards and traitors” on the base of the statue.
“We’ve already had two instances of vandalism and, with the potential for violence, it is [Carmon’s] belief that the statue does create a public nuisance and therefore we are directing the Daughters of the Confederacy to remove it, and if they don’t, we’re prepared to file legal action to achieve that removal,” Joines told the Journal Tuesday.
The Daughters of the Confederacy previously declined to remove the statue, but Joines believes that the suggested location is “honorable and appropriate.”
In her letter, Carmon notes that the first act of vandalism included the word “shame,” while the latest incident included the words “cowards and traitors.” She believes it is therefore “clear that the tenor of the vandal’s message has escalated and the intensity of the same is not likely to wane with the passage of time.”
She repeatedly invokes the violent Charlottesville rally of August 2017 as further reason for the statue’s removal.
“Due to concerns for overall public safety and protection of the statue, I hereby direct you to remove and relocate by January 31st the subject Confederate statue from its present location to a more secure location where the same can be protected from vandals and others looking to create a Charlottesville type incident in Winston-Salem,” Carmon writes.
According to her letter, the city added the site of the statue to the Winston-Salem Bike Patrol’s route while the Daughters of the Confederacy installed a “no trespassing” sign.
“Unfortunately, such efforts have not deterred individuals intent on vandalizing private property and inciting a public response,” she continues, saying the recent vandalism causes “significant concern about the safety of the statue and the potential for confrontation, breaches of the peace and other nuisance type conduct similar to that endured by other cities.”
She concludes by declaring that “failure to comply with this direction may result in the city seeking a court order for the removal and relocation of the subject statue.”
The Journal reports that Carmon has the general support of the Winston-Salem City Council, including Council Member D.D. Adams.
“We’re trying to be nice, but in the heat of the night, people may come through like ninja warriors and take that statue down,” Adams said Tuesday.
As the Journal notes, a 2015 law severely restricts permanent removal of Confederate monuments that are located on government property, but the Winston-Salem statue is located on private property.
– – –
Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Allen Joines” by Allen Joines.
Background Photo “Winston Salem City Hall” by David Bjoren. CC BY-SA 3.0.