GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–On Friday, Greenville’s activists set the stage for a Juneteenth celebration. But just blocks away, a statue honoring confederate soldiers stands high above the city.
“It’s not heritage it’s racism, we need to eliminate it,” activist Bruce Wilson said. “That statue needs to be removed. It is a race symbol and it’s very racist.”
Wilson and fellow activist Derrick Quarels explain what its like to have the monument in the city.
“The history that’s attached to it, it doesn’t make sense to me as why it would be something that’s preserved in a city that’s moving forward that talks about inclusion that talks about equity and access,” Quarles said.
“It’s very painful because the ideology behind that statue is what allowed George Floyd to be murdered,” Wilson said.
It’s not the first time Wilson has called for its removal.
“We want to bring that cry back up and let this state and this mayor know that the heritage act needs to be abolished and eliminated,” Wilson said.
The city says, it’s not that simple.
“It is something that is offensive and divisive to many in our community and our council is sensitive to that,” city spokesperson Beth Brotherton said.
Brotherton said the city’s legal team previously found the statue was protected under the Heritage Act, preventing local government to change it in any way.
“To remove it or take it down or cover it up or anything like that,” Brotherton said. “The council and city leaders are absolutely looking at options for anything that could be done or should be done in response to the statue.”
Quarles and Wilson want the city to take a stand against the state law.
“I think cities should have the authority to remove statues, install statues as they so please,” Quarles said.
And take on whatever consequence there may be.
“Somebody needs to violate it. Someone needs to go around it, go through, it but it needs to be changed,” Wilson said.
They say the time for change is now.
“We don’t want it to be that we need another death to get back to this moment. So lets take this moment lets seize on it and lets make meaningful change,” Wilson said.