Winston-Salem removes Confederate statue from old courthouse

Free Press wire reports | 3/15/2019, 6 a.m.
The city of Winston-Salem, N.C., removed a Confederate statue Tuesday from the grounds of an old courthouse, drawing applause from ...
Workers make final preparations before removing a statue of a Confederate soldier from its base in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Tuesday. The statue is to be placed in a historic cemetery. Skip Foreman/Associated Press

The United Daughters of The Confederacy unsuccessfully argued in court papers that the sale of the Winston-Salem courthouse left the public monuments in the hands of Forsyth County, so removal would violate the state law. But county officials have said they don’t own the statue and the current owner of the property agreed the statue should be removed.

City officials have said it’s impossible to preserve the monument or protect public safety at the downtown location. The statue has been vandalized several times in recent years, and critics and supporters have held rallies around it.

Elsewhere, two North Carolina Confederate statues have been torn down by protesters in recent months, including one at a historic Durham courthouse and another on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Those are among at least 18 Confederate monuments around the state that have been vandalized or damaged dating back decades, including one knocked over by a 1989 hurricane and later put back up, according to an Associated Press analysis of state records.

Before the 2015 monuments law was enacted, North Carolina municipalities had relocated Confederate monuments at least 20 times, including some moved multiple times.

Local governments have been all but blocked from moving statues under the law that allows relocation only in very narrow circumstances. Among the last monuments moved by a local government before Tuesday was one relocated from near Charlotte’s old City Hall to a cemetery after it was vandalized in 2015.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said 115 Confederate statues have been taken down across the United States, a sign that they are losing favor.