Councilman: Community ready for discussion about Confederate statues

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – The Governor wants to give power back to the local leaders to debate keeping Confederate statues on public land. Those on the local level want the power back as well.

We decided to continue our coverage of the debate over Confederate monuments by hearing from city leaders about the issue. We also talked to a local historian on how proper removal should happen if that was decided on.

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“Regardless of what you think of the monuments, vandalism is unacceptable,” says councilman Kevin O’Grady.

“The defacing of these monuments or of any public monuments is simple criminal vandalism,” historian Phil McCasky says.

There’s a consensus on how to treat civil war monuments that vandalizing them is not the answer. However, there is not one surrounding the debate of remove or remain.

“I think there would be a much better way to deal with this, and that would be reasonable discourse, I believe local government should have more of a voice in should monuments be remain or removed,” says McCasky who has taught U.S. History at several local community colleges.

The vandalism in Wilmington happened near councilman Kevin O’Grady’s home.

“They do honor something that happened in this country’s history that should not be honored, but it should be understood,” says councilman O’Grady.

Each statue that sits in old Wilmington was privately funded and placed according to the Cape Fear Community College professor. He says basing removal of them only on the racial tensions they represent is a slippery slope.

“If slavery and racism is the criteria of removal for historical symbols is a pretty wide sweeping brush to apply,” professor McCasky explains.

O’Grady’s office has been flooded with messages for both moving and maintaining the statues. It’s a debate he wants but it cannot happen until the state gives them the power to decide.

“The community is ready for a discussion about it but the fact is if we had it, it would be a frustrating discovery in the end we’d have to say well you know.”

For the first time we have a response from Republican leaders in the assembly. Senate president Phil Berger released the following statement:

“Personally, I do not think an impulsive decision to pull down every Confederate monument in North Carolina is wise. In my opinion, rewriting history is a fool’s errand, and those trying to rewrite history unfortunately are likely taking a first step toward repeating it.”