Demolition of Vance Monument underway; historical preservation group asks court to halt it

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA)- A historical preservation group is asking a court to stop the demolition of a confederate monument in downtown Asheville.

After more than 120 years, the monument to North Carolina governor, senator, and Confederate Zebulon Vance is coming down. According to the city of Asheville, enslaved people are believed to have been sold at the site of the monument.

“When people starting pointing out what it representing, I was like you know we don’t really need this in the middle of our town,” said Nancy Meler, who works in Asheville.

After protests and civil unrest last year, Asheville City Council voted to have the monument removed, saying it was deemed a threat to public safety.

Some see the statue as a piece of history that should be preserved. The Buncombe County-based Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th North Carolina Troops is trying to stop the demolition.

“Instead of tearing monuments down, we should be putting other monuments in place and celebrating the people who have advanced our nation,” said attorney Edward Phillips, who is representing the group.

He said they want the North Carolina Court of Appeals to stop the demolition until the North Carolina Supreme Court makes a decision in another case involving similar issues, such as whether the state’s monument protection law applies.

“That court should be allowed to do its job and render a decision one way or another,” Phillips said.

A spokesperson for the city of Asheville said demolition is continuing for now.

“I agree that people should celebrate their history, but I feel like the southern states were separating from our country…and I don’t think that’s something we should continue to celebrate,” Meler said.

An attorney for the city of Asheville said the city believes the group’s request is improper and without legal justification.

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