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Governor formally petitions to move Confederate monuments

Late Friday Governor Roy Cooper formally petitioned the North Carolina Historical Commission to remove three Confederate monuments from the capitol grounds in downtown Raleigh.

In a letter to the commission, which must approve any movement of such monuments, Cooper argues for moving the statues to the historic site of the Bentonville Battlefield in Johnston County.

A 2015 law prescribes how and when monuments and other “objects of remembrance” can be moved – and limits what the commission or local governments can do with them. Though the law states monuments may not be moved to places of lesser prominence, the Cooper administration is arguing that the Bentonville Battlefield qualifies as prominent placement and is necessary for their preservation.

The Historical commission meets to take up the issue Sept. 22. Several members of the board have spoken to N.C. Policy Watch over the last two weeks about their views on the monument controversy.

The meeting comes in the wake of deadly violence at a white supremacist rally over the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia and the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham last month.

There has been a renewed push for removal of the “Silent Sam” statue on the campus of UNC in Chapel Hill as well.

Last month  Gov. Roy Cooper joined a number of Democratic and Republican governors of southern states in calling for Confederate monuments to be removed from state grounds.

Cooper told UNC officials they have the power to remove the ‘Silent Sam’ statue under a provision that allows for its removal if “building inspector[s] or similar officials” determine there are “threats to public safety.”

N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R – Rockingham) strongly disagreed with Cooper in a Facebook post.

UNC officials declined to remove the statue themselves and called on Cooper to convene the Historical Commission to decide the matter.

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