NC House backs ban on removing confederate monuments
In yet another example of the state trampling on the rights of individual municipalities, the NC House voted to ban the removal of historical monuments, including those memorializing the confederacy. Despite attempts by Democrats to give local government control over these decisions, conservatives in the House rammed through the bill without those amendments.
The N.C. House voted 70-37 Monday night to make it harder to remove historical monuments and memorials – including controversial Confederate war memorials throughout the state.
The bill 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.” A final vote on the bill is set for Tuesday before it heads to Gov. Pat McCrory.
Rep. Michael Speciale, a New Bern Republican, said the bill creates a responsible process for handling historical monuments.
“The whole purpose of the bill is to keep the flames of passion from overriding common sense,” he said. “We’re supposed to be the reasonable body up here that overcomes that and makes the right decisions.”
But several Democrats said the legislation comes at a bad time, weeks after South Carolina’s legislature voted to remove a Confederate flag from its statehouse in the wake of a deadly church shooting in Charleston, S.C.
Rep. Kelly Alexander, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, said his community is debating the removal of a monument that features four Confederate flags. He called for Mecklenburg leaders to have the ability to make that decision.
“Consider the optics of this bill as it relates to what’s going on right now,” Alexander said. “It’s the wrong piece of legislation, and it’s going to send the wrong message out there.”
The Republican majority defeated several amendments proposed by Democrats to restore local control over monuments on town, city and county property.
Rep. George Cleveland, a Jacksonville Republican, said the state should have the final say. “Municipalities and cities are subdivisions of the state, and the state can play with their property if they feel like it,” he said.