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A construction crew was preparing to take down a Confederate statue in a North Carolina city Tuesday morning, a rare move in a state where such monuments are largely protected by law.

Two cranes were set up on either side of the statue in Winston-Salem and traffic was blocked on a main downtown thoroughfare.

At one point, a worker on a cherry picker was raised up to the top of the statue and appeared to be looking at how to attach a chain or harness.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said in a phone interview that he hoped work would be finished by the end of the day. As of mid-morning workers appeared to have attached a harness and were preparing what he described as a “security frame” with pieces of wood to protect the statue during its removal.

“We are under way in the relocation of the monument,” Joines said.

Joines said the statue will eventually be moved to historic Salem Cemetery. Before that, it will be put into temporary storage while a site at the cemetery is prepared.

“We realize that there are very strong feelings on both sides of this issue, so what we’ve tried to do is devise a solution that recognizes both sides,” he said, describing its eventual home in the cemetery as “a very dignified and appropriate location for the statue.”

At the site, several onlookers were out, and temporary concrete barriers were blocking traffic in several directions. Standing across the street from the statue, Howard Snow said the city was wasting money by taking the statue down and that the money could be put to better use.

Winston-Salem had more leeway than most North Carolina cities because the old courthouse property had passed into private hands. A 2015 North Carolina law all but prohibits the permanent removal of Confederate statues from public land.

In January, a judge denied a request by the United Daughters of The Confederacy for a temporary restraining order to prevent the removal of the statue. Winston-Salem city officials had given the group until the end of that month to move the statue from the grounds of the building that now houses apartments, or the city would remove the monument itself. The mayor has proposed moving it to a cemetery.

Some statues had been relocated by North Carolina cities in the years before the 2015 law went into effect, but since then, local governments have been all but blocked from doing so under the law that allows relocation only in very narrow circumstances. Two North Carolina Confederate statues have been torn down by protesters.

Critics argue many Confederate statues were built decades after the Civil War to promote white supremacy. Supporters counter that the monuments are simply memorials to ancestors who fought and died protecting their homes.

In Durham, east of Winston-Salem, city and county officials are studying what to do with a Confederate statue torn down by protesters in 2017 in the aftermath of a deadly white nationalist rally in Virginia. A panel recommended moving the crumpled statue into an indoor display.

And leaders of the state’s public university system have given themselves a May deadline to figure out where to put a statue torn down on the grounds of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Protesters toppled that statue in late 2018.

Resolving the fate of the statues has been complicated by a 2015 state monuments law that forbids relocation of Confederate monuments on public land unless narrow circumstances are met.

United Daughters of The Confederacy lawyers unsuccessfully argued in court papers earlier this year that the sale of the Winston-Salem courthouse left the public monuments in the hands of Forsyth County, so removal would violate the state law.

But City Attorney Angela Carmon countered in a letter saying the monument and land under it remain privately owned because the county never took required steps to take ownership. County officials have said they don’t own the statue, and the current owner of the property agrees the statue should be removed.

Carmon said in the same letter that the statue’s presence makes it impossible to preserve the statue or protect public safety. The statue has been vandalized twice since late 2017 and critics and supporters gathered for a tense rally around the statue in January.

The approximately 30-foot (9-meter) high monument includes a granite statue atop a base and column and was dedicated in 1905. It depicts an anonymous soldier in a Confederate uniform resting his rifle stock against the ground.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. GregTorchia

    March 13, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    It breaks my heart to see what they’re doing to our forsyth county history /repeat it ,,because we would not learn from it /You will repeat it/And you won’t like it this time even less 1776

  2. Joseph Kempski

    March 13, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Since they dont want to learn from history, lets make all niggers slaves. Maybe they will leard then

    • Art LaPella

      March 14, 2019 at 2:14 am

      Naw, slavery is no better than how liberals treat taxpayers!

    • Lance A. Charles, Sr.

      March 14, 2019 at 4:39 am

      It is attitudes like that which fuel hate and destruction of History!

      • Rick

        March 14, 2019 at 8:13 am

        Do you think by taking down these historic statues it wont fuel hate ?????????
        It will only make it worse….

  3. Henry Fechner

    March 13, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    I’m not in favor of removing the monuments, but if it is removed then it should be moved to a Confederate cemetery. Just like if a Robt. E. Lee statue were to be moved it should be relocated at the Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington House was Lee’s property he inherited from his wife before the war. The U.S. government confiscated his property and made it a cemetery. When he inherited it with the slaves that were working there, Lee promised to free all slaves in three years.

    • June & El Evans

      March 13, 2019 at 11:15 pm

      I feel really strongly against about people removing statues, once it started in the US it went to Canada. I think statues are a part of History and should NEVER be removed.We are supposed to learn from History and it we don’t it’s bound to repeat itself..worse than before

  4. Granny

    March 14, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Bastards

  5. STEVE FLOWERS

    March 14, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    ERASING HISTORY! RE-WRITING HISTORY FOR LIBERALS WHO NEVER HAVE PARTICIPATED IN MAKING OR LIVING HISTORY. AMERICA IS HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION WHERE IMBECILES HAVE BECOME POPLULAR.

    • Roberta Brown

      March 14, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      I agree. When will the demands, the whining and bitching come to a stop? When Mt. Rushmore is destroyed? The Washington monuments are removed? The next thing will be demands to split the white house into sections. With 1/4 to be painted white, 1/4 black, 1/4 brown and 1/4 painted rainbow colors. No matter how much they scream, history will never be changed. The sooner that people stop pandering to these groups, the sooner the better! Especially when those groups go out purposely searching for things to find offensive to further their agendas.

  6. Clyde

    March 14, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    It is true that there are still racist people in America. However, if we all knew CORRECT History, then we would know that less than 15% of confederate soldiers were from slave-holding households. You had a choice in 1861-1862; join the confederacy to protect your home from northern invaders or join the union and have your home burned by your neighbors. We also fail to realize that the northern controlled federal government had imposed +40% taxes on all agriculture products but then exempted the crops that were grown in the northern states. Therefore, the southern states, because their reps were outnumbered in congress were being forced to fund the government, including the tax exempt northern farmers and industrialists. After the federal government got their take of the profit, there wasn’t enough left to live on and feed their families and livestock and buy seed for the next year. They had no other choice but to fight for home. So these memorials are not about hate but history of the southern soldier spirit who fought to protect their homes and families. Are we also tearing down all of the memorials to union soldiers and historical figures. If we are going to remove all memory of the Civil War, then those need to go as well. It is a very sad time in America when we tear down our memorial to brave people who fought for home and country. If this continues, then all memorials need to come down, including those to Washington, Jefferson, FDR, and MLK in Washington DC.

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