Under the Dome

NC Senate leader wants Gov. Cooper to withdraw request to move Confederate monuments

Should Confederate monuments stay or go?

Confederate monuments on state property are something NC residents feel passionately about -- on both sides of the issue. They voice their opinions on the Capitol grounds in Raleigh, where several monuments stand
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Confederate monuments on state property are something NC residents feel passionately about -- on both sides of the issue. They voice their opinions on the Capitol grounds in Raleigh, where several monuments stand

Senate leader Phil Berger said Gov. Roy Cooper’s attempt to move three Confederate monuments from the Capitol grounds would not stand up in court if he succeeds.

In a letter to Cooper his office released Thursday, Berger, a Republican, said the commission does not have the authority to approve the petition. The commission would lose if the residents challenged the move in court, he wrote.

The N.C. Historical Commission is set to consider the Cooper administration’s request Friday morning to move three monuments from Raleigh to Bentonville Battlefield in Johnston County, the site of the state’s largest Civil War battle.

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Berger accused Cooper of “selective outrage” in seeking to move the three statues honoring ordinary people while keeping at the Capitol a North Carolina governor who was a white supremacist, another governor who served in the Confederate military, and “Democrat President Andrew Jackson who forcibly removed North Carolina Native Americans from their tribal lands and sent them on the deadly ‘Trail of Tears.’”

Cooper, a Democrat, announced his intention to try to relocate Confederate monuments sitting on state property after the violent white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville and after a crowd toppled a Confederate statute outside the former Durham County courthouse.

Cooper said the monuments should be moved to a location where they can be considered in context.

His administration has not withdrawn the petition.

“Governor Cooper has said that while our state’s Civil War history is important, it belongs in museums, historical sites and textbooks, and not in a place of allegiance on the Capitol grounds,” said Cooper spokesman Ford Porter. “The proposal is to relocate these monuments to the Bentonville Battlefield historical site and the Department of Administration petitioned the historical commission to start this process.”

Under a 2015 law that some have described as confusing, monuments can’t be moved without approval from the Historical Commission. Cooper said he believes the commission can approve moving the monuments. Berger disagrees.

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner

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