A controversial bill protecting flags and monuments in North Carolina is headed to Gov. Pat McCrory after clearing the General Assembly Tuesday.
This vote came after a firestorm of debate about Confederate memorials across the country, causing some lawmakers to wonder whether now is the right time to take action.
After hours of debate, Senate Bill 22 passed the House, 70-39. The bill, first introduced in February and voted on by the Senate in April, is meant to protect state-owned monuments, memorials and other objects of remembrance by requiring a vote by the General Assembly to remove it.
During House debate some members called the bill ill-timed, noting that making it more difficult for communities to remove Confederate memorials, will only fan the flames of resentment.
And just down the road from the General Assembly stands a prime example of that anger. A monument to the women of the Confederacy in front of the Capitol was vandalized Tuesday, making the third time that has happened in the Triangle in three weeks.Police are looking for two men who spray painted “Black lives matter” on the statue around 3 a.m. Tuesday.
Protesters in Chapel Hill recently have asked the school to remove the Silent Sam statue in a prime spot on the University of North Carolina campus.
“It makes me feel like I need to start thinking about what I need to be doing to be a peaceful solution. It does show how many people are in pain of whatever issue we are talking about,” said Raleigh resident Ellen Baxter.
Several House members noted that even though the bill was passed, there’s still a need for conversation about the Confederate monument issue, and finding better ways to spotlight the state’s history.
North Carolina had strong pro-Union sympathies before the Civil War but joined the Confederacy in 1861 after neighboring states left to join the rebel cause.