Mixed opinions after Wilmington City Council votes to permanently remove confederate statues

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The people of Wilmington and New Hanover County are sharing mixed opinions after the city council voted to permanently remove two confederate statues downtown on Monday.

The decision came after the statues were removed more than a year ago during the unrest following the death of George Floyd. Some residents welcome the decision, saying it shows the city is heading in the direction of positive change.

“When it comes to certain people, it may be a pride for history or it may be offensive to others, from my personal standpoint, I’m kinda happy they got removed,” Ziyon C. said. “I think it’s a bad look on history from back in those times. You gotta evolve when it comes to change and the future.”

Others would have liked to have seen the statues return to where they once stood more than a year ago.

“I think people are trying to hide history and taking things down from the past and I think it’s going to cause problems in the future,” New Hanover County resident Dennis Drinkard said. “I wish they would leave historical sites in play and not cover them up, take them down, and do all these things they’re spending time, money, and effort on.”

A visitor to the city says the decision to remove the statues makes Wilmington more welcoming to people of color and other minorities.

“It creates a more hospitable environment for people of color, for everybody to feel welcomed in a way that it maybe hasn’t been prioritized in the past,” Baltimore resident Evan Martin said. “I’m always looking for things that can make a more hospitable environment for my community as a whole, I feel like there’s more work, obviously, that needs to be done but these represent good first steps.”

Deborah Maxwell, president of the New Hanover County chapter of the NAACP, says she was elated to hear the news. She says she hopes it starts a conversation to replace the monuments with someone more representative of the diversity in the city.

“It’s very uplifting that this was done because those statues were put down by individuals during a time many years after the civil war just as a reminder of the messages of the war,” Maxwell said. “So now we will not have to drive by those, and that is a great thing.”

Community activist and leader of the Wilmington Black Lives Matter chapter Sonya Patrick shared a statement, reflecting on what her great grandmother, a former slave captive, would think about the removal.

“I believe my great-grandma is smiling, saying “…..don”t ever give up, because we never gave up, we knew this day would come, and there are many more days ahead. Always keep having faith in God. He will never leave you or forsake you …” Patrick wrote. “The removal sends a message that this is the United States of America not the United States of the Confederacy. We are one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.”

WWAY has reached out to the Cape Fear 3 chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy for comment, but we have not heard back.

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