‘I think they need to go’: City Councilman wants to see Confederate statues removed

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As the Governor moves to take down Confederate statues at the Capitol grounds, a lot of people want to see Wilmington follow suit.

A curfew was put in place Saturday in the areas of downtown Wilmington where the statues sit, and it remains in place.

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“I think they need to go,” City Councilman Kevin Spears said. “I think they need to be removed. There’s a place for them. Just not 3rd Street. Just not Market Street.”

Spears agrees with those who want to see the statues go, saying it serves as a daily reminder that people fought to own other human beings.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want to be reminded that some people wanted to keep black people enslaved, and that’s just what it is,” he said. “There’s no other way around it.”

Confederate statues have been toppled in other cities around the state. In addition to the curfew, the statues in downtown Wilmington have been roped off, and “no trespassing” signs have been placed at the foot of them to prevent similar incidents from happening.

Over the weekend, Governor Cooper ordered the removal of the Confederate statues from the capitol grounds for the public’s safety.

Spears says he was extremely happy to see Cooper take this step.

“I think it’s amazing,” Spears said. “I think it’s a really bold step by the Governor. I don’t think it’s one that a lot of people anticipated.”

Spears says he would like to see Wilmington do the same. He says the statues are something many people are sick of seeing because it signifies a time in history where Black people were enslaved.

“There’s so much conversation about it right now, especially here, where people want to see it come down,” he said. “But there’s just as much conversation where people want them to remain.”

While Spears say City Council hasn’t had an official discussion about taking the statues down, he says it’s something they’re going to have to talk about. He says the discussion about the statues has been something going on in the community for a long time.

“I believe it’s time,” he said. “Look at the nation.”

On the other hand, Spears adds that it’s a process and it cannot be done overnight. He says there are different steps involved in going about the removal of the statues, and that official discussions need to take place.

“You want the statues to come down?” Spears said. “Do it in a real diplomatic way. In a real political way. Don’t take it upon your own self to try and take down a Confederate statue.”

The curfew in those areas near the statues downtown is still in place from 7:30 p.m. to 7 a.m., and applies to pedestrian activity on Market Street between 3rd Street and 5th Avenue. It also applies to activity on the median of 3rd Street between Market Street and Orange Street.

The curfew was put in place Saturday night and set to last five days. There is no word yet on whether it will be extended.