Court Rules County Officials Cannot Remove Confederate Statue

This week, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled against the NAACP, which sought to force Alamance County officials to remove a Confederate monument currently placed outside the courthouse.

The Washington Examiner reported that the unanimous ruling rejected the NAACP’s argument that the Monument posed “a threat to public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition.”

The NAACP based its argument on a 2020 statement from the city manager, who claimed the statue posed a public safety risk.

The court ruled that the public safety risk assessment statement was inaccurate and did not merit an exception to North Carolina’s Monument Protection Law, which protects monuments, art and artifacts.

The court stated the risk assessment declaration was invalid because it was vague and not voiced by a professional who assessed a particular and imminent risk to the community. The assessment was not made by “a building inspector or similar official,” the court observed.

The court added: “Because the county manager is not a ‘similar official’ to a building inspector, we conclude the building inspector exception does not apply to the county manager in this case.”

Government leaders are beginning to push back against calls to remove and rename references to American history. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis decried the practice in February.

Last week, DividedWeFall published a piece by Esther Wickham, Journalism Program Officer for The Fund for American Studies, in which she argues against the removal of Civil War-era monuments.

Wickham argues that “removing a namesake does not change the past; it only prevents us from educating future generations. She laments moves by places of higher education to erase history, citing how Clemson University recently renamed a building previously named in John Calhoun’s honor, and Princeton removed Woodrow Wilson’s name from their School of Public and International Affairs building.

Monument removal began in earnest after the George Floyd-inspired riots in the summer of 2020. In that same year, USA Today reported that Mt. Rushmore, a notable monument carved into a South Dakota mountain in the 1940s, should be removed because its placement is a “violation of sacred Native American land.”

The Mt. Rushmore’s lead architect’s reported ties to the Ku Klux Klan are “evidence of white supremacy and anti-Semitism,” the USA piece argued.
The call was repeated in the Guardian in 2021, noting that several of the presidents depicted in the Monument endorsed slavery.

A video post by NowThisImpact lauded the practice of removing Confederate-era monuments. Their profile linked monuments to “white supremacy” and “indigenous genocide” and supported their removal as just “retribution” and appropriate “emotional reparations.”

The North Carolina ruling read. “Under the Monument Protection Law, the County has no authority to move the Monument. Regardless of some commission members’ comments or misunderstandings of their legal ability to move the Monument, the rule of law does not change.”