State Politics

NC Senate leader criticizes Charlottesville violence, Durham vandalism – and Roy Cooper

North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger is interviewed in his office on May 23, 2017 in Raleigh.
North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger is interviewed in his office on May 23, 2017 in Raleigh. rwillett@newsobserver.com

State Senate leader Phil Berger criticized Gov. Roy Cooper in commentary published on social media, while also decrying both the violent rally in Charlottesville and vandalism in Durham.

Berger, an Eden Republican, wrote that “the white supremacy movement has no place in America,” and that the protest in Durham where a Confederate statue was toppled was “discouraging and sad.”

Berger called Cooper’s statement Tuesday criticizing a bill to protect drivers who inadvertently hit protesters with cars “divisive.”

“Roy Cooper’s reactionary and divisive statements on Tuesday were extremely disappointing and not the type of steady leadership the people of this state expect from our governors,” Berger wrote.

The Democratic governor wants to repeal a 2015 law that protects monuments and move Confederate statues that sit on state-controlled property.

“Gov. Cooper believes that our Civil War history is important but that it belongs in textbooks and museums and not on a place of allegiance on the Capitol grounds,” Cooper’s spokesman, Ford Porter, said in a statement Thursday. “As the governor has said, conversations about our state’s racial history are never simple or easy. But we must learn from our past and move forward as a state.”

Berger endorsed the law in his commentary.

“Two years ago, the state Senate unanimously passed a bill that tried to reduce the politics in making these decisions,” he wrote. “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.”

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner

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