Who owns this statue?

Who owns this statue?
July 23
00:00 2015

In above photo: The Confederate statue stands beside the former Forsyth County courthouse, which is now an apartment complex. (Photo by Todd Luck) 

N.C. lawmakers pass bill to protect historical monuments after debate

In the midst of a changing downtown, a Confederate statue still stands at the corner of Liberty and West Fourth streets.

It sits beside the former Forsyth County Courthouse, where it’s been since it was erected in 1905.

The courthouse moved out of the building in 1974 to the current Forsyth County Hall of Justice.

The building housed some county offices until 2004.

The County sold the courthouse in 2014 and now it’s been remade into 50 West Fourth with 58 apartments that start $975 a month.

Deputy County Manager Damon Sanders-Pratt said as far as he can tell, the local United Daughters of the Confederacy James B. Gordon Chapter, who erected the statue more than a century ago, still owns it.

Neither the county nor the new owners of the property have control over the statue, he said.

The monument has a statue of a Confederate soldier on a 24-foot base.

On its front it reads “Our Confederate Dead” in large raised letters and engraved text around the base speaks of glory and fame for Southern soldiers who died in the Civil War.

A local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy still exists.

According to the national organization’s website, the group is open to female descendants of those who fought for or aided the Confederacy and is dedicating to collecting and preserving Southern Civil War history and educating others about it.

The local chapter had no comment, referring The Chronicle to the state president, who also had no comment and referred the paper to the group’s national president general, who didn’t respond to an email inquiry before press time.

Management at 50 West Fourth had no comment on the status of the statue, but said there has been no comments or complaints made about it by residents.

County Commissioner Walter Marshal said that the statue is oftentimes unnoticed by people and hasn’t been a source of much controversy.

He said he felt it didn’t belong on government property because, to him, it represented slavery and a time when the South tried to secede from the United States of America.

“It has a place in our history and it should be preserved, but it should not be on government property,” Marshall said.

Other Confederate monuments have been a source of contention lately around the country and in North Carolina, which has more than 100 such monuments.

A bill that would require General Assembly approval to remove monuments on public property that “commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history” passed unanimously by the N.C. Senate in April and was approved by the House on Tuesday.

The measure now moves to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. N.C. Rep. Ed Hanes voted against it and believes the bill was fast tracked-recently in order to protect Confederate monuments.

“It’s kind of a roundabout way to end public discussion on some issues that need to be talked about from a race and history standpoint,” said Hanes. “It is a way to attempt to defuse conversations from happening that surround issues of Confederate monuments.”

He said he personally feels such monuments should be removed or have something added to talk about the history of slavery in the Confederacy.

A monument to the North Carolina Women of the Confederacy in downtown Raleigh was vandalized overnight on Tuesday, July 21, with the words “Black Lives Matter!”

Last week in Charlotte, two confederate monuments were vandalized, one with concrete covering its words and the other with the word “racist” sprayed painted on it.

On July 5, the Silent Sam Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill had the words “murderer” and “black lives matter” spray-painted on it.

In Graham, Concerned Citizens of Alamance County is planning to ask the county commissioners to remove a Confederate monument in front of that county’s courthouse.

A rally to support the monument on Saturday drew more than 1,000 participants.

The rally’s sponsor was a Facebook page called “Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County,” which has a Confederate merged with an American flag as its main image and says it’s protecting “Southern rights.”

The page features numerous posts on the Confederacy, including one with Confederate soldiers saying “In the face of tyranny, they stood strong & proud. Now it’s our turn!”

Confederate symbols in public places have been a source of renewed controversy after the racially motivated massacre at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month.

The alleged shooter, Dylan Roof, posted a photo online prior to the massacre in which he posed with a gun and the Confederate battle flag, a commonly used symbol by white supremacists.

This caused a renewed debate over the flag. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley led a push to get the Confederate battle flag removed from the state Capitol, and lawmakers followed suit, resulting in the flag’s removal on July 10.

The flag had flown over the South Carolina state capital since 1961, when it was raised over the State House for the Civil War Centennial, though it’s widely believed that it was really raised to protest integration, which was common among Southern states at the time.

In 2000, it was moved to a Confederate monument in front of the Capitol.

It had been a source for controversy for decades, and the NAACP just ended its 15-year boycott of South Carolina over the flag on July 11.

Many major retailers have stopped selling the flag, such as Walmart,, Sears and eBay.

Many public uses of the flag nationwide are being reconsidered and a #noflaggingchallenge has gone viral, with people posting videos of themselves stealing Confederate flags displayed on other people’s property.

This past weekend there were clashes between protesters in Columbia, South Carolina, when the Klu Klux Klan held a rally protesting the removal of the flag from the Capitol grounds and the New Black Panther Party held a counter-protest.

The protests were on and in front of the Capitol grounds.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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