RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – There are calls to repeal a North Carolina law that bans local governments from removing monuments without state approval.
State lawmakers passed the law in 2015, around the time another controversy erupted regarding Confederate monuments.
Some say they are a symbol of history. Others say they are a symbol of division.
Nick Walters opposes the monuments.
He held a sign out in front of the large Confederate monument on the State Capitol grounds Tuesday morning.
“I’m just here to maybe welcome folks into downtown and let them know that this Confederate monument might be here but there are a lot of people that do care,” Walters said.
Confederate monuments across the state are protected from local governments taking them down without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission.
Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange) voted against the law then and said it has no place in North Carolina now.
“They were designed to intimidate people,” said Meyer. “These were not monuments to uplift our people or tell the best portions of our history or bring us together. These were monuments to divide us.”
Mark Sweat disagreed.
“When I look at them, I think of my four great-great grandfathers who served in the Confederate army,” he said. “They were farmers. They didn’t own any slaves.”
Sweat, a Wake County man who has been active with Civil War reenactments, said he supports the law and said it offers protection for the monuments that was assumed, but was never in writing.
“People don’t see the Bible all alike,” said Sweat. “But that doesn’t mean we should burn up the Bible and throw it away. We shouldn’t destroy these either.”
Walters said he believes the monuments belong in a museum, not on public street corners.
Sen. Tommy Tucker (R-Union), sponsored the original bill in 2015.
He said there is no place for hatred, racism or bigotry in society.
He said this law is about protecting history.