News

Senate President: Governor “reactionary” in call to remove Confederate monuments, legislature unlikely to repeal 2015 law

When the General Assembly convenes in special session Friday, don’t expect lawmakers to rush to repeal a 2015 state law that prevents cities and counties from removing or relocating Confederate monuments.

Governor Roy Cooper called for the repeal of the law on Tuesday in response to recent violence in  Charlottesville, Virginia and the toppling of a confederate statue in Durham Monday night.

Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger responded to the governor’s appeal on Facebook Thursday:

Personally, I do not think an impulsive decision to pull down every Confederate monument in North Carolina is wise. In my opinion, rewriting history is a fool’s errand, and those trying to rewrite history unfortunately are likely taking a first step toward repeating it. Two years ago, the state Senate unanimously passed a bill that tried to reduce the politics in making these decisions. I believe many current members of the Senate would be hesitant to begin erasing our state and country’s history by replacing that process with a unilateral removal of all monuments with no public discourse.

I don’t have a lot of answers about what we can do to heal the wounds of racial injustice that still exist in our state and country. But I know it won’t happen with angry mobs. It won’t happen with opportunistic politicians trying to drive a wedge further between us. It will require our leaders to show some humility and compassion as we try to chart a path forward.

Berger also said the governor “falsely protrayed” House Bill 330 that would grant immunity from civil liability to a motorist who strikes a demonstrator with their vehicle.

HB 330 passed the House in April and possibly could see action by the Senate in an upcoming special session, if leadership decides to advance it.

You can read Senator Berger’s full statement about Charlottesville and Durham here.

News

Gov. Cooper: Confederate monuments should come down; legislature must repeal 2015 law

Governor Roy Cooper took to social media Tuesday to speak out against last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and offer his suggestions for how best to handle Confederate markers in North Carolina moving forward. Cooper tweeted “It’s time to move forward. These monuments should come down.”

He expanded on his position in a new Medium post:

Gov. Roy Cooper

Last weekend, I watched with horror as events in Charlottesville unfolded. Having served as North Carolina Attorney General for 16 years, I am all too familiar with the racism, bigotry and full-out white supremacy that exist in corners of our society. But it was shocking to watch these elements displayed so publicly — venom and hatred shamelessly spewed in epithets. My stomach sank to learn that a peaceful counter-protester had been killed and many others injured as the hatred morphed into violence.

It started with a monument, stone and metal, inanimate and yet more provocative now than ever. Charlottesville could have been Raleigh, or Asheboro, or any other city in North Carolina that is home to a Confederate monument. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like for a person of color to pass by one of these monuments and consider that those memorialized in stone and metal did not value my freedom or humanity. Unlike an African-American father, I’ll never have to explain to my daughters why there exists an exalted monument for those who wished to keep her and her ancestors in chains.

Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side. We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down.

Our Civil War history is important, but it belongs in textbooks and museums – not a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds. And our history must tell the full story, including the subjugation of humans created in God’s image to provide the back-breaking labor that drove the South’s agrarian economy.

I understand the frustration of those fed up with the pace of change. But after protesters toppled a statue in Durham Monday night, I said there was a better way to remove these monuments.

My first responsibility as governor is to protect North Carolinians and keep them safe. The likelihood of protesters being injured or worse as they may try to topple any one of the hundreds of monuments in our state concerns me. And the potential for those same white supremacist elements we saw in Charlottesville to swarm the site, weapons in hand, in retaliation is a threat to public safety.

It’s time to move forward. And here’s how I plan to do that.

First, the North Carolina legislature must repeal a 2015 law that prevents removal or relocation of monuments. Cities, counties and the state must have the authority and opportunity to make these decisions.

Second, I’ve asked the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to determine the cost and logistics of removing Confederate monuments from state property as well as alternatives for their placement at museums or historical sites where they can be studied in context.

Third, the North Carolina legislature should defeat a bill that grants immunity from liability to motorists who strike protesters. That bill passed the state House and remains alive in the Senate. The Senate should kill it. Full stop. Those who attack protesters, weaponizing their vehicles like terrorists, should find no safe haven in our state.

Conversations about race and our past are never simple or easy. They are deeply personal and emotional. As President Lincoln said, we must do this work “with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds.” President Lincoln was on point: we must do what we know is right, and we must do it the right way.

Read the governor’s full statement online.

Commentary

Statement from Rick Glazier: NC Justice Center condemns white supremacy, racism on display in Charlottesville

 The North Carolina Justice Center adds its voice to the chorus condemning the white supremacy and racism on display this weekend in Charlottesville, as well as the continued everyday violence of institutional racism and outright bigotry in our society. The events of this past weekend made it clear – once again – that such ideas are all too prevalent in our country.

Our nation is experiencing a rising tide of racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. The President’s tacit encouragement of outspoken white supremacists has only made them more empowered and dangerous. His initial statement on Saturday conflating the victim and perpetrator was exceptionally destructive.

Here in North Carolina, we have seen clear and explicit policies that would further systemic racism and oppression, such as racial gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the re-segregation of our schools – all policies that seek to divide rather than unite us. It is not only our moral responsibility to stand against the bigotry, hatred, and evil on display over the weekend, but also to fight against institutions and policies that give rise to the credibility of that ideology.

To remain silent in the face of hate – in any form, violent or otherwise – is to tolerate these destructive views.

We must also acknowledge a painful but very real truth. Not all individuals who hold these beliefs march in rallies or wear white hoods, nor will they ever acknowledge their own biases. We must stand against the institutional racism and outright bigotry in our society, and not just when they result in terrible violence, for the touchstone of violence is words. It requires an everyday commitment if we are to truly challenge racism and white supremacy. It is too easy to label the perpetrators as the “other,” when, in reality, “they” may well be the person next door.

Today is not a day to be silent, or to tolerate evil. The NC Justice Center strongly rejects hate and condemns white supremacy, and we reaffirm our commitment to advancing racial justice.

News

El Pueblo condemns White Supremacist terrorist attacks in Charlottesville

From Angeline Echeverria, Executive Director of El Pueblo Inc:

El Pueblo stands with the victims of the white supremacist terrorist attack which occurred this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. As an organization dedicated to the dismantling of systemic racism and xenophobia, we were appalled by both the Nazi rally and the violence used against counter protesters who stood up against fascism and injustice in our society. We urge our friends and allies to remain vigilant of both overt and subtle forms of white supremacy in our communities, and to look after one another in these uncertain times.

News

Members of NC’s congressional delegation condemn the violence, hate in #Charlottesville

Members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation took to social media Saturday to speak out against the violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Senator Thom Tillis:

Congressman David Price (NC-4):

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (NC-5):

Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-8):

Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10):

Congresswoman Alma S. Adams (NC-12):