ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–A confederate monument in downtown Anderson was a hot topic at a County Council meeting on Thursday afternoon. Many were demanding the monument be relocated, while others want it to stay put.
For more than an hour, people gave emotional pleas about the monument.
“I think they should be remembered. I just don’t think this monument should be glorified in the center of my city,” said Matthew Cogswell, a community leader behind the removal of the monument.
“I want my history, my heritage that sits in the downtown square, left alone,” said a supporter of the monument being left in downtown.
“It does not represent all of Anderson county’s citizens. I believe I should speak up for people who don’t look like me. I think it’s the time for me to ignore racial injustices is over,” said Sam Brooks, a community leader behind the removal of the monument.
Brooks has been leading efforts to relocate the confederate monument since the death of George Floyd. Brooks wants to see the monument be relocate to a museum or a confederate battleground. He and Cogswell have been at the forefront of petitions. They believe the monument symbolizes racism.
“Instead, what is communicated to me and my family is, that I am less than because of the color of my skin,” Cogswell said.
They’re concerned about this part of the statue which reads in part, “The world shall yet decide, in truths clear, far-off light, that the soldiers who wore the gray, and died with lee, were in the right.”
“Statues like this one, was often used to proclaim public opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, which sought equal opportunity and an end to racist treatment to African Americans,” said a supporter of the monument being relocated.
However, a few others who spoke out, said they feel it honors the history of their confederate fathers.
“The Heritage Act of South Carolina was put in place to protect things like that, and I want them left alone,” said a supporter against the relocation of the monument.
“It’s against the state law gentlemen for y’all to move that monument. And I mean no disrespect, but if you do, I will sue you,” another supporter said.
The county said they have zero control over the monument, adding that according to the Heritage Act, the decision is up to the State.
“Anderson County Council, Anderson County, Anderson City, will have zero control over that monument. We can’t move it. We can’t put it up, take it down. I mean, our hands are tied. It goes through the state, through the Heritage Act 2000. And in order for it to be removed, it has to be two- thirds vote from both houses in the General Assembly,” said Brett Sanders, Vice-Chairman of the Anderson County Council. “So coming here whether you’re for it or against it, coming before council is not the place to plead your case. I mean you need to be reaching out to your state representatives,” Sanders said to 7-News before the meeting started.
However, Brooks hopes something can be done either way.
“The county can submit to the SC legislator for them to vote to allow us to relocate it. I understand that the county does not have the power to relocate it themselves, but they do have the power to ask. So I’m asking them to ask,” Brooks added.
There was no further comment after residents spoke out about their concerns.