RALEIGH, N.C (WNCN) — Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration recently petitioned the state’s Historical Commission, asking that three Confederate monuments on the Capitol Grounds be moved.
A state law protects “objects of remembrance” from removal and requires the approval of the Historical Commission.
One of the three monuments is 75 feet tall and was dedicated back in 1895. The others include the North Carolina Women of the Confederacy and Henry Lawson Wyatt.
“The Governor’s action was wise and prudent,” UNC Chapel Hill Professor Harry Watson said.
Watson is a history professor at UNC Chapel Hill and also served two terms on the Historical Commission.
“This is not the sort of thing that the Historical Commission routinely deals with,” Watson said.
He told CBS North Carolina that there’s a lot of ambiguity in the law.
The first involves where monuments can be moved to. It’s supposed to be “a site of similar prominence.”
But what does that actually mean?
In this case, the Governor has recommended the three monuments be moved to the Bentonville Battlefield Historic Site in Johnston County.
The law also states that a monument can be moved to preserve it. Does that mean to protect it from a natural disaster or vandalism?
Finally, there’s no enforcement mechanism in place.
“I would like to see the General Assembly repeal the law. I don’t think that this is the sort of thing that ought to be micomanaged by from Raleigh,” Watson said.
Watson told CBS North Carolina jurisdictions should get to decide what they want or don’t want in their communities.
The Historical Commission is scheduled to meet Sept. 22. The group’s agenda has not been released.