– Counties, cities and universities would have to get permission from state lawmakers to remove or replace state-owned monuments or memorials under a bill expected on the House floor next week.
The bill was approved by a House committee Wednesday.
The action came almost two months before the deadly shootings at a historic African-American church in South Carolina that sparked a wave of negative sentiment against Confederate relics.
Last week, the monument near Memorial Stadium was the subject of a heated debated among county commissioners as whether to remove it.
The cement covered the carved inscription, two battle flags and the word ‘Confederate.’ The inscription states that Confederate soldiers “preserved the Anglo-Saxon civilization of the South”, which Loewen called an “overt” white supremacist message.
The bill is scheduled to be voted on by the House next week.
“There are some monuments around the state that really relate to a bad experience related to subjugation, and I’m addressing those kinds of issues”, he said.
But Rep. Larry Pittman, a Concord Republican, said taking down monuments and memorials reminds him of the George Orwell novel “1984”.
Another example would be the statue of Silent Sam at UNC.
“We owe it to history to restore it and continue the dialogue about what we do with this memorial, other memorials and how we deal with things that are offensive to people in the future”, Commissioner Jim Puckett said.
The bill doesn’t specifically address the naming of buildings or roads.
Sponsor Sen. Daniel Soucek, R-Watauga, said the bill would set up a uniform process for the management of the state’s historical artifacts. “It’s looking at how we respectfully preserve the history of this state without it going up and down with public opinion”.
Speciale said state lawmakers would be more deliberative than local officials about the issue.
In April, the Senate passed a bill banning the removal of “objects of remembrance” from public property.
Monuments to the Confederacy are common across North Carolina, including a massive monument in front of the Capitol facing Hillsborough Street.
“If you start tossing these things out without seriously considering it, to me that would be a rash act”, Morrill said.