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Wilmington's Confederate Monuments Could Fall As Threats To Public Safety

Nancy Beach / Wikimedia Commons
A statue of George Davis, Attorney General of the Confederacy, sits near the intersection of 3rd and Market Streets in downtown Wilmington


What to do with the Confederate Monuments that sit in major intersections in downtown Wilmington? 

That was the issue dominating a forum on race – hosted last night by Mayor Bill Saffo and City Council Member Kevin Spears.  The  answer could come as soon as Tuesday.


Mayor Saffo says he’s exploring options for removal of the statues – which are protected by a 2015 state law.  One of the options, used by Governor Roy Cooper to remove statues from public spaces in Raleigh, is to declare them threats to public safety. 


Saffo says that idea is under discussion.


"If they are moved, or if they are moved temporarily, that would be a decision that would have to be taken on by the entire city council… But here again, we have to abide by what the law is telling us. Now, I do know that some people may want to take the law into their own hands.  We hope that you don’t do that."


Deborah Dicks Maxwell is President of the New Hanover County NAACP.  


"A few years ago in Virginia, it was illegal for interracial couples to marry.  So we can’t go and state that that’s what they said in Raleigh, because some things that are law are wrong laws.  And this is one that was put in by the Legislature just to stop people from doing what is going on now."


Frankie Roberts, Executive Director of LINC, noted three council members were present.  He put them on the spot.   


"Do we have three commitments with the three council members that will vote 'yes' to remove the statues?"


Kevin Spears said he would.  Charlie Rivenbark said nothing.  And Bill Saffo repeated his promise to continue the discussion the next day.


Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 4 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.