State Politics

McCrory signs ban on removing historical monuments

A statue of a Confederate soldier looks north on Hillsboro Street from the traffic circle of downtown Pittsboro. Gov. Pat McCrory will sign a bill banning state agencies and local governments from removing monuments and other historical “objects of remembrance.”
A statue of a Confederate soldier looks north on Hillsboro Street from the traffic circle of downtown Pittsboro. Gov. Pat McCrory will sign a bill banning state agencies and local governments from removing monuments and other historical “objects of remembrance.” hlynch@newsobserver.com

Gov. Pat McCrory announced late Thursday that he’s signed a bill making it harder to remove historical monuments and memorials – including controversial Confederate war memorials.

“Our monuments and memorials reminds us of North Carolina’s complete story,” McCrory said in a news release. “The protection of our heritage is a matter of statewide significance to ensure that our rich history will always be preserved and remembered for generations to come.

“I remain committed to ensuring that our past, present and future state monuments tell the complete story of North Carolina.”

McCrory’s statement did not mention the state’s 100-plus Confederate monuments, some of which have faced calls for removal in the wake of deadly shootings at a black church in Charleston, S.C.

The bill passed the House Tuesday and would ban state agencies and local governments from taking down any “object of remembrance” on public property that “commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.”

That would mean a state law would be needed to remove a monument or relocate one to a site that’s not of “similar prominence.”

The bill passed the Senate unanimously in April, but it stoked a heated debate in the House this week that centered around the fate of Confederate monuments.

In a Monday floor speech that one Republican called “disrespectful,” Democratic Rep. Cecil Brockman of High Point argued that Confederate soldiers “were traitors to this country, and they don’t deserve the same respect as those who fought in other wars.”

Republican Rep. John Blust of Greensboro, however, condemned the idea of taking down monuments, saying it’s “the kind of thing ISIS does,” referring to the Islamic State’s destruction of historical artifacts in the Middle East.

McCrory’s statement Thursday steered clear of that divide, but he did voice concerns about the bill. He objected to a provision that prevents local governments from moving or removing monuments on their own property – something Democrats tried unsuccessfully to remove from the legislation.

“While I disagree with the process created in the bill and the overreach into local decision making, the overall goals of the bill merit my signature,” he said.

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