RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WSPA) – North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper ordered the removal of Confederate monuments on Capitol grounds in the interest of public safety, the governor’s office said Sunday.
In 2015, a law passed in North Carolina after the Charleston Emanuel AME Church killings, prevents the removal or relocation of objects of remembrance located on public property. While Cooper has called for the repeal of the law, it remains in effect.
The law does, however, include an exemption if the monument poses a threat to public safety.
“I have ordered the Confederate monuments on the Capitol grounds be moved to protect public safety,” Cooper stated in a news release Sunday. “I am concerned about the dangerous efforts to pull down and carry off large, heavy statues and the strong potential for violent clashes at the site. If the legislature had repealed their 2015 law that puts up legal roadblocks to removal we could have avoided the dangerous incidents of last night. Monuments to white supremacy don’t belong in places of allegiance, and it’s past time that these painful memorials be moved in a legal, safe way.”
The statues removed Saturday include one dedicated to the women of the Confederacy, and another honoring Henry Wyatt, the first North Carolinian killed in battle in the Civil War. On Friday night, protesters pulled down two statues of two Confederate soldiers that were part of a larger obelisk. On Saturday, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest blamed Cooper for allowing the protesters to succeed.
In 2017, the governor called for Confederate monuments to be moved to museums or historical sites.