Sarah Kate Purnell
On Sept. 22 the North Carolina Historical Commission voted to delay a decision to relocate three Confederate monuments from Raleigh to the Bentonville Battlefield. The three monuments include the 1895 Confederate Monument, the Henry Lawson Wyatt Monument and the North Carolina Women of the Confederacy Monument.
The Historical Commission declared the delay after Gov. Roy Cooper asked for the monuments to be removed two weeks prior. The request by Cooper additionally seeks to examine a 2015 state law pertaining to the monuments.
“The law says state-owned monuments or works of art can be relocated only ‘when appropriate measures are required by the state’ to preserve them or when removal is needed to make room for construction,” reported Matthew Burns from WRAL.
The commission has postponed a decision until their meeting in April 2018 and proposed a subcommittee to further assess the situation. According to the News & Record, the subcommittee includes history professors, local historic preservation advocates and the head of the state’s black heritage panel.
“Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side,” wrote Cooper according to Julia Manchester from The Hill. “We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down.”
Cooper’s request for the relocation of the monuments came after a white supremacist protest turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this year, as well as the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham in August.
According to the News & Record, Bentonville Battlefield, the requested location to move the monuments, is “one of the last sites for major fighting in the civil war, 50 miles from Raleigh.”
Cooper’s spokesman, Ford Porter, expressed the governor’s appreciation to the News & Record after the commission’s decision to delay relocation and believed that the monuments would serve more appropriately in historic environments such as museums.
Protesters in favor of the monuments being relocated and in opposition to the delay gathered outside the commission’s meeting.
“I don’t think that you should have to think about whether you want monuments honoring people who kept other people enslaved and in chains and who fought and died for the belief to keep other people in chains,” said Qasima Wideman of Durham according to the News & Record.